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Port Moresby
June 17, 2021
Momase News Your Vote 2017

Lae ends a chaotic day of polling

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Polling in the Lae Open electorate has ended with widespread reports of electoral roll inaccuracies, inadequate ballot papers and polling disruptions by angry voters. The incidences in multiple locations happened as an international observer group travelled between polling stations in Papua New Guinea’s industrial city.

At Omili Primary School, voting was suspended for over an hour  after police fired shots to disperse a crowd of  rowdy voters.  Earlier, a Nawae Block community leader, Nime Dua,  led a  group that threatened to  force the suspension of polling  because of shortage of ballot papers.

“In previous elections the ballot papers brought  here average between 3000 and 3500,” he said.  “We want them to explain why we are being given only 1500 ballot papers.”

The apparent shortage of ballot papers stems from the flawed  2017 electoral roll  does not include eligible voters who turned 18 after  2012 elections.

At  a polling station at the University of Technology  students  burnt  1100 ballot papers  in protest.

“We fought against corruption last year,”  a student leader said. “This is corruption!”

Tensions escalated in West  Taraka  as voters  turned against each other.  Police were called in to quell the violence.

As voters questioned the validity of the electoral roll at  a polling station in the centre of town,  Electoral Commissioner, Patilias  Gamato,  stepped off a Port Moresby Flight to Lae  and headed straight for the Ward Two council office a few kilometers away where he was able to find his name on the electoral role and cast his vote.

In Chinatown, many voters  had come as early as 4am to vote. But by 8.30am,  many voters were left  frustrated.

Eng Anuma  voted in 2012.  This morning she that  found  that her name was not on the 2017  electoral roll.  Names of  her family members were also missing.

“What am I going to do? I don’t know. I have a right to vote!”

Delvin Balsen planned to vote  in this election.  The 31-year-old Lae resident is one of many young voters who will miss out on the  election process.

“I don’t feel like a Papua New Guinean Citizen. I am angry about the whole thing.”

Minutes after polling began in Chinatown, scrutineers  called for a suspension of polling and demanded to know which electoral roll would be used. Some  voters  who found their names on the 2012 rolls could not find theirs  in the 2017 rolls. While polling resumed,  the electoral roll problems remained unresolved for the rest of the day.

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