The Bougainville Electoral Commissioner, George Manu has assured the people of Bougainville that the preparations of the 2020 ABG elections are underway.
“While we are yet to receive any funds for enrolment or polling, we are preparing ourselves and voters as best as we can,” Commissioner Manu said.
Commissioner Manu explained that the ABG elections are held according to the Bougainville Constitution, and will be different to the referendum just conducted.
“The referendum had its own voter eligibility and voters were asked to mark ‘X’ in one box,” Mr Manu said.
“ABG elections are held according to the Bougainville Constitution. This requires the referendum roll to be updated, and people to be given awareness about Limited Preference Voting – or LPV 1,2,3.”
“The lesson of the referendum was that a good roll, good awareness and good engagement with Community Governments was central to a good outcome. We want to use those lessons to hold a quality election that Bougainvilleans deserve.”
Commissioner Manu further said that while the referendum roll was a good one, it required updating in three areas:
Enrol young Bougainvilleans who have turned 18 since 23 November – the cut-off date used for the referendum.
Remove the names of non-Bougainvilleans not eligible under ABG electoral laws
Where needed, give people the chance to update their enrolment location.
The Commissioner said that while they are waiting for funds to be released to them, they have gone ahead to begin consultations and awareness with community governments across Bougainville.
“We have completed a plan, I have selected AROs for appointment and my staff are now in the field talking with Community Governments about the two stages of enrolment: update and public display,” Mr Manu said.
“What we are waiting for is a commitment and the transfer of the PGK13.5million for the budget submitted to the ABG last year, and a confirmation of the dates for the Writ.”
Commissioner Manu reminded voters that unlike the referendum, the ABG elections used an LPV system where every voter must mark their ballot papers with a 1, 2 and 3 according to who they wanted to represent them in parliament.
“25 percent of referendum voters were first time voters, and they only needed to mark one box with an ‘X’. That was a very simple process and a simple message. But the 1,2,3, LPV system is very different. We don't want to see chaos and confusion and spoilt ballot papers at the ballot box.”
“We will need time and resources to give Bougainvilleans the sort of quality electoral process delivered by the BRC – we know Bougainville is short of both, but we are doing our best and call on the government and voters to support us in this goal.”
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