PNG Candidate Scrutineers Warned Not To Interfere With Work Of Counting Officials

Commissioner tells representatives to know their roles, not try to become election officers

By Sharon Lowa

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, July 7, 2017) – Scrutineers are being warned not to interfere, manipulate and influence the work of the presiding officers, returning officer and their assistant returning officers in polling areas and counting venues.

Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato warned that scrutineers are only present at venues to observe and not influence the decisions or work of the Electoral Commission in conducting the election.

Mr Gamato emphasised this so that scrutineers of candidates know and understand their roles and not be confused and try to take over the roles and responsibilities of election officers.

By law, the scrutineers are recommended by the candidates to represent them to be their eyes and mouthpiece and appointed by the Electoral Commission.

In ENB, there have been many incidents caused by scrutineers trying to manipulate the decisions of the presiding officers, thus disturbing the progress of election.

However, Mr Gamato clarified that as soon as they enter polling areas or counting venues, their sole responsibility is to observe and not influence.

He said the role of the scrutineers is important, but they must know their demarcation, they must know where to stop.

“As we enter the counting, scrutineers must know their responsibilities, they must know their demarcation so they stop at certain areas, the responsibility to count belongs to the returning officers,” Mr Gamato said.

He said with the East New Britain and other provinces enter the counting process, the responsibility of counting and management of the counting lies on the returning officers and not the scrutineers.

Mr Gamato said during the process of counting the commission will not accept any dispute. However, they will take note and bring it forward to the court of disputed returns with all evidence available by those aggrieved.

The Electoral Commission will not at this stage allow any dispute to disturb the process of election.

[PIR editor's note: On July 7, 2017 PNG Post-Courier reported that 'There have been a lot of speculations about extra marked ballot papers or ballot boxes going around which the Lae Metropolitan Command has taken into the consideration as Lae prepares for counting. ... Police are set to provide security during the counting of votes for Lae Open, Nawaeb Open and Huon Gulf Open in Lae city, says Lae police commander Chief Superintendent Anthony Wagambie Jr. ... He assured the public that police would maintain a presence at the venues to ensure whatever had been brought in from the polling places were the ones that would be counted, meaning that police would ensure that extra marked ballot papers were not brought in.']

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