Scrutiny process to start tomorrow

The process of the scrutiny of ballots for the ABG General Election will commence at 1pm tomorrow.

According to the Acting Bougainville Electoral Commissioner Mr George Manu, counting will be held in three locations in the region.

“For the North Region, the counting centre will be at Hutjena secondary school hall. For Central, it will be at the Sharp Memorial Centre in Arawa and for South it will be at the United Church in Buin,” said Mr Manu.

“The North Region counting centre will have two operations under one roof. One team will be conducting the scrutiny for the region’s constituency, women and former combatants while another team will be conducting the scrutiny for president.

The first step of the scrutiny at each of the three regional counting centres will be to identify ballots that may have been mistakenly deposited into the wrong ballot box.

“The next step will be to sort the ballot papers. Ballot papers will be sorted by type-at this stage they will not be examined for preferences.

“Declaration votes (the votes in the envelopes) will then be examined to ensure a voter was entitled to cast a declaration vote instead of an ordinary vote.

“After this, a reconciliation will be conducted to verify that ballot boxes contain the correct number of ballot papers according to presiding officer records.

Presidential ballot papers will then be prepared for transfer to the presidential counting centre.

Mr Manu said once this process has been completed for each team within a constituency, then scrutiny of preferences will now commence.

“Presidential ballot papers will be transferred to Buka in sealed ballot boxes under police escort.

“Due to the need to identify and transfer presidential ballot papers to the presidential counting centre in Buka, I anticipate the scrutiny of presidential ballot papers will not start before Thursday 28 May, and it could well start only on Friday 29 May. This is by design, and in accordance with the procedures I have established and approved.

Mr Manu said though the counting process will be complex and laborious, this was adopted with paramount interest of safeguarding the vote of all Bougainvilleans who voted, and to ensure that each and every single vote is counted.

“I therefore ask for patience and restraint during this time. Counting will take place around the clock, with multiple shifts each day until the scrutiny is finished, or June 7, which ever comes first,”

Mr Manu also announced that those with access to internet connection can also access the daily counting results on OBEC’s website.

The writs are scheduled to be returned on the 8th of June.

Meanwhile, the acting Electoral Commissioner is appealing to all scrutineers and international and domestic observers to witness the counting process from the start till the end of counting.

“As part of our commitment to full transparency, I invite scrutineers and international and domestic observers to witness the process from the beginning to the end.

“I remind candidates that one scrutineer per candidate is permitted to observe the scrutiny at any one time,” said Mr Manu.