Voters Being Turned Away From Bougainville Polls

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Electoral Commissioner under fire for incomplete common roll

By Romulus Masiu

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, May 11, 2015) –The Office of the Bougainville Electoral Commissioner has come under fire with many eligible voters turned away on the first day of polling throughout Bougainville as they could not find their names on the common roll to cast their votes.

Many voters were turned away at the polling booths because their names are not on the common, a polling official who doesn’t want to be named confirmed. This paper also observed and confirmed this very big issue in some polling booths.

According to local observers, none updating of common roll in Bougainville has been the ongoing problem and downfall for every election in Bougainville – both ABG and National Government elections - and hasn’t been corrected one bit. It’s still the same in this election where many voters are turned back at polling booth yesterday.

More will be turned back when the polling ends on 25th May, 2015.

"Today we turned back a lot of eligible voters. Most of them don’t have names in the Common Roll. We don’t know who to blame now as the Common Roll Update has been done and still people’s names are not showing up in the voters roll book," the polling officials confirmed.

Frustrated voter John Miringtoro said he could not vote either as his name was not found on the common roll. Mr Miringtoro is among many frustrated voters in Bougainville who are facing the same problem in all polling booths throughout the island region.

The same problem is being encountered in all polling booths around the island where eligible voters are not casting their votes because of their names.

Mr Miringtoro on behalf of the Bougainville voting population wants the Bougainville Electoral Commission to move quickly and rectify the problem for the good of the voting population and the upcoming elections in 2017 and 2020 respectively.

North Nasioi candidate Mark Niniku said this is not a good sign for candidates as they (candidates) will lose a lot of their votes because of the failure of relevant authorities and stakeholders who are not updating the common roll as best as they could.

However, according to the Bougainville Electoral Commission, the common roll has been updated but it seems that this is not the case now as more voters are chased away from casting their votes because of no names on the common roll.

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