Recount ordered for Goroka open

A recount has been ordered into the Goroka open election results after the National Court found there were errors and omission committed by Electoral Commission officials at counting.

The election of Henry Tutowo Ame was disputed by former MP and petitioner Bire Kimisopa.

Errors and omission by Electoral Commission officials saw the petition upheld after trial was conducted in Goroka.

775 ballot papers from the Eastern Highlands Regional box that were misplaced were declared informal by the court today.

Recount will commence from Elimination 1 to 28. All ballot boxes will be held in custody of the Eastern Highlands Provincial Police Commander until recount commences.

The National Court also ordered that counting officials to be used for the recount should be from outside Goroka.  

The Registrar of the National Court is to present the results to court within 7 days after completion of recount.

Since errors were committed by Electoral Commission servants and agents, it was ordered to pay the cost of the petitioner as well as the MP.

A fundamental error made by the Electoral Commission counting officials was the misplacing of 775 ballot papers for the open seat in the regional seat.

There was also lack of awareness of the LPV system and how it works to candidates and scrutineers.

Two meetings done on 5th and 7th July at the National Sports Institute were not sufficient.  

Justice Les Gavara-Nanu said the lack of the awareness on the LPV system was an error by the Electoral Commission.

“It needed to be properly understood by those using it,” he said.

The returning officer was absent from most of the counting period without medical evidence or report to support the claim he was sick.

He was also said to be away from the counting venue to organise lunch and attending to other logistics issues, which were outside his duties and function as the returning officer.

Armed security personnel who were not authorised to be inside the counting centre were also said to have contributed to affect the scrutiny process.

(Henry Ame outside the courthouse today)

Sally Pokiton