Common Roll A Letdown: Maru

The People First Party is concerned there is little time left before the election process begins and is calling on the PNG Electoral Commission to get the Common Roll in order.

Party leader, Richard Maru in a press conference held recently stated that PFP is not happy with the current common roll update and fears that many may miss out during the 2022 National General Elections.

He described the process of voter enrolment and update of the common roll as a letdown by the commission. Mr Maru said their concern stems from the fact that many people in every ward right across the country have not been able to enroll for the simple reason that the Electoral Commission predetermined that in every ward only a 15 per cent increase in eligible voters is possible.

As a result, the EC went to all the wards in PNG in the last month to undertake the common roll update and provided limited form 11s for new voters to be registered so they can vote.

“In my village for example the forms was so limited that 50 eligible voters in Parjen village East Yangoru Ward 1 haven’t been allowed to be registered.

“Meaning, they will not be eligible to vote in this coming election. In my neighbouring village of Sinengu Mombuk and 139 people not yet registered. The Electoral Commission has restricted the number of Form 11s to be given to every one of the wards, no one has bothered to go back and complete the exercise,” he said.

Mr Maru said the Electoral Commission cannot take an arbitrary decision in Port Moresby that each ward can only be increased in terms of enrollment by 15 per cent, slamming it as “ridiculous”

In response to Mr Maru’s statement, the Electoral Commissioner, Simon Sinai said the Commission has done its best to prepare for Election 2022 with limited resources.

Mr Sinai when referring to the 15 percent increase in eligible votes, he said the PNGEC use 3 percent population growth rate for any planning by Government.

“So we have 3 percent from 2017 to April, 2022 which is a 15 percent straight based on anticipated population growth in each ward. For example, if a ward holds about 500 eligible voters, its form 11 based on 15 percent would be, 75 new enrolment forms and with 3000 voters, 15 percent form 11 is 450 new enrolment form 11s,” he said.

Mr Sinai said this is the legal bit matrix used and cannot work outside the laws. He said the Commission is comfortable to accept new enrolment form 11, approximately within the context of law to implement.

“This is not a new concept or idea but an existing procedure to managing voter enrolment. We are maintaining our 2017 to 2019 existing voter registrations database with new enrollments, especially young voters who turn 18 years this year and from 2017.

“We are not updating for a new common roll as many may misunderstand. I wish to assure that every voter who voted in 2017 will still have their names on the voter register together with the added names coming from the new voters,” Mr Sinai said.

He said, therefore, the Electoral Commission produces its own required database for elections only and could not possibly rely on other data provided by sister agencies like the National Census, NID and civil registry and Department of Inter Government Relations.

Mr Sinai said none of the database is ready to retrieve and form the basis for update of Electoral Roll. There are option for a collaborative effort by such agencies, however are still working hard to reach a final database for PNG.

The Electoral Commission states that they have had different strategizes to address the Electoral Roll issue but admitted they could not possible implement those as early as possible as expected early 2021. However, have pulled things together to prepare everyone for Election 2022.

“As an agency responsible, it is a mandated responsibility to prepare and conduct elections so we are actually doing that to avoid wrong impressions on the work of electoral roll for election 2022,” Mr Sinai added.

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