Chan files petition

The paper-plane fold that was used during polling in the Namatanai open seat has become a ground for an election petition, allegedly amounting to illegal practices in the court of disputed returns.

The petition, filed by Byron Chan, today came for direction hearing where orders were issued for parties to get witness statements prepared and filed for those they intend to call. This is for when the matter goes for trial.

The petition alleges five instances of illegal practice, four instances of bribery and two instances of errors and omission on the part of the Electoral Commission.

Chan is seeking in the petition to have the court declare the election of Walter Schnaubelt null and void.

For instances of illegal practice, the paper-plane fold or ‘balus-fold’ that was used by supporters of Walter Schnaubelt, is alleged to have contradicted section 138(b) of the Organic Law on National and Local Level Government Elections.

Here Chan is alleging in the petition that such fold is illegal and the Electoral Commission should not have accepted ballot papers with such folds.

His lawyer, Greg Sheppard, indicated the possibility of filing a Supreme Court Reference to seek constitutional interpretation on this.

Nine people whose names were provided to court have been summoned to also appear in court when it goes for trial.

Chan intends to call between 18-20 witnesses to give evidence in the petition while respondent, Schnaubelt‘s lawyer Justin Wohuinangu, indicated getting at least 15 witnesses.

Each party has been given two weeks each to collect witness statements in preparation for trial, while the Electoral Commission has been ordered to provide the tally sheet that is signed off by the respective Returning Officers.

This contains what is called Form 66(a) which is the first preference count and Form 66 (b), which is signed off after elimination and before a declaration is made. 

The case will return to court next month before a listing date is given for the trial.

Sally Pokiton