Election Returning Officer Terence Hetinu said they were able to kick start counting in the later part of today and hope to complete the process before October 19.
Returning Officer Hetinu said counting was scheduled for the 6th but had to be moved because a church service did not conclude until late Sunday, October 7th.
“We allowed (the church service) to continue. We were supposed to start preparing the arena on Monday but that didn’t happen due to some logistics preparations that didn’t go well for us.”
Hetinu said they have combined the three counting venues to just one location, despite disagreement from voters, candidates and scrutineers who insisted on the usual way of having ballots counted in respective Ward locations.
He said this decision was a management decision.
“Although is it’s a new way of doing it in the Motu-Koitabu Assembly elections, we wanted security to be monitored and also concentrated in one area, and the assistant returning officers can easily communicate with me regarding counting matters.”
The set-up of the counting venue was completed this morning and counting was underway. A new innovation was introduced called the ‘pre-sorted stage’.
Ballot papers are identified by colour, and if a ballot paper belonging to the ballot box for ‘Chairman’ is found elsewhere, it can be checked and moved to the correct ballot box before the actual counting.
This process is done so as not to have a vote considered invalid while in counting.
Hetinu and his team hope to complete counting by October 15.
“We plan to finish on the 15th because the date for the return of writs is October 19. We have to deliver results on or before then.”