Starting last week, people living in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville on the Digicel network are receiving short SMS messages to their phone with awareness and updates about the referendum process – BRC Tok Save.
Chief Referendum Officer, Mauricio Claudio, said as the Commission gains more staffing and resources, it has been able to boost much-needed awareness across face to face, voter materials, website, media, Facebook, and now mobile phone.
“This referendum is a first for Bougainville and Papua New Guinea, and as a new electoral process with its own laws and guidelines, we need to get awareness out across all mediums because not everyone has the same access to information,” Claudio said.
The Commission now has over 500 trained awareness officers covering every Ward and urban centre in Bougainville, a website, a Facebook page and is getting out through media and mobile phone as much as possible.
Recent Bougainville Audience Research suggests almost 75 percent of the population has access to a mobile phone – and use it to give and receive information, however access to mass media is low and there is a preference for face to face for question and answers.
“Our aim is a free, fair and informed referendum, meaning people have information to be empowered to participate in the referendum and to vote,” stated Claudio.
“We encourage people to be active in getting themselves informed about vital parts of the referendum, including the current registration process.”
The BRC has now completed the second, extended phase of house to house enrolment by ward recorders over the weekend.
“However, people should soon look out for information about the final phase of enrolment in August, the public display of the draft referendum roll in every Ward.
“People have a last chance to check their name, correct misspellings and add their name if it’s still not on the roll. This will happen in August.”