PNG Governor General May Extend 2012 Polling Period

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Polling may continue, but vote counting cannot be deferred

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, July 3, 2012) – The Papua New Guinea (PNG) Governor General is likely to be asked to extend the polling period in a number of electorates in the most remote parts of the country.

This comes after the Electoral Commissioner, Andrew Trawen, said adjustments to the polling schedule were inevitable because of delays in the Highlands and other provinces.

He says the Governor General has been made aware that polling will likely need to extend beyond this Friday.

Mr. Trawen says no single province has completed all polling requirements.

He also says there is no room under the law for vote counting to be delayed.

Mr. Trawen says despite calls for the deferral of counting until every ballot box has been returned, the law stipulates that people should not be made to wait for the election results.

Preliminary vote counts have been released for some seats in two provinces.

Counting is underway in the newly created Hela province and neighboring Southern Highlands province.

The winner of Southern Highlands’ Ialibu-Pangia Open seat is the first final result known.

The caretaker Prime Minister Peter O’Neill won the seat with a huge majority on first vote counts.

Under PNG’s Limited Preferential Voting System, most seats are expected to be decided on second and third preferences.

In the ten seats where counting has started, Mr. O’Neill’s People’s National Congress Party leads in three while independents lead in five.

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