The boxes are currently being held at the Mendi Police Station in Southern Highlands Province, along with additional non-sensitive election materials.
Commissioner Sinai said, “I confirm that on 22 June 2022, I instructed that the PNGEC logistics convoy redirect two containers of empty metal ballot boxes from Southern Highlands to Hela and Enga Provinces for the following reasons:
- Due to an ongoing 2017 election petition, SHP was not able to access the containers to obtain non-disputed empty metal ballot boxes at the time of dispatch of strategic materials, therefore the PNGEC sent three containers of empty metal ballot boxes to SHP.
- Whilst these containers were in transit to SHP, approval to access the containers in SHP occurred and as a result the stock take of empty ballot boxes was confirmed.
- Accordingly, SHP would no longer need all three containers of empty metal ballot boxes that were being transported to SHP on top of the stocks in the province.
- During this time, the PNGEC identified that Hela and Enga provinces required empty metal ballot boxes due to the delayed arrival of metal ballot boxes allocated to them.
“Therefore, I made a decision and instructed the convoy to redirect one container of empty metal ballot boxes to Hela Province and another container to Enga Province to ensure that these provinces will have enough ballot boxes when polling starts in these areas on 4th July 2022,” Sinai said.
“Southern Highlands polling begins on 8th July and a further planned shipment of empty metal ballot boxes is already on its way to arrive in time for polling.”
Sinai added, “I wish to state for the record that there was no improper or unauthorized diversion of empty ballot boxes. Everything that was done was in accordance with my instructions and in line with my authority as the Electoral Commissioner.
“I also wish to note that sensitive election materials (such as ballot papers, ink, candidate posters and rolls) were not included in these containers. Sensitive election materials have already been delivered to the provinces primarily via air transport.”
Sinai said PNGEC appreciates that the security of election materials is of upmost importance.
“I wish to thank the police for their efforts to ensure the integrity of the electoral process, whilst allowing the PNGEC to clarify the instructions surrounding the transportation of these two containers.
“Now that this has been clarified, we hope the investigation will be resolved in a timely manner so that delivery of the containers can proceed so that the provinces have enough ballot boxes required when polling starts in Enga and Hela on 4th July 2022.”