Commissioner’s Press Statement

Today, 30 May 2015, the Acting Electoral Commissioner, Mr George Manu, released the following statement:

Following my press conference on Thursday, I am pleased to report that counting of the ballot papers has commenced in all three regions at the counting centres in Arawa, Buin and Buka.

Counting officials worked through last night and five (5) constituency seats have been declared:

  • Kokoda was declared at 1.12am this morning for Rodney Osioco
  • Torokina was declared at 1.45am for Steven Suako
  • Tsitalato was declared at 2am for Fidelis Semoso
  • Taonita Tinputz was declared at 5am for David Braun Vatavi, and
  • Kongara was declared at 10.24am this morning for Dominic Itta

Counting continues this morning with Haku, South Nasioi and Bolave Constituencies.

Also, in South and Central the Regional Women’s and Former Combatant seats are being counted progressively as the counting officials count ballot boxes from each constituency. As such, there are results gradually coming in for these elections.

In North the Regional Women and Former Combatant seat will be counted following the completion of the constituencies.

I have been advised that in North the order of the constituency count has changed. Following Haku, which is currently underway, the following order will be applied: Tuanita Teop, Teua, Halia, Peit, Nissan, Hagogohe, Mahari, Selau, Tonsu, Suir, then the Atolls.

I am pleased by reports that the majority have been patient with the commencement of the counting in each of the Regions. In Central and South yesterday there were delays as there were additional ballot papers to be included in the count. These were flown from Buka by helicopter to quickly finalise the sorting and recommence counting.

I thank all the counting officials, the scrutineers, the candidates and the public for their ongoing understanding of the counting process. I also thank the Returning Officers for doing everything they can to maintain the integrity of the count by pausing until the ballot papers could be included.

Regarding the Presidential ballot papers, they have now all been sorted and bundled ready to be transported to Buka to commence the Presidential count. The Presidential count may commence later tonight.

Following the reconciliation of ballot papers I can provide a preliminary, unofficial estimate of the overall turnout of approximately 59%. This figure does not include all ballots from Special Voting Services so it may still change.

Turnout indicates the number of people who have voted in comparison to those who are eligible to vote on the roll. I will provide final figures by constituency once I can confirm this information.

I would now like to take some time describing how the count works.

  • The first stage of the count involves distributing the ballot papers to the candidate who is the first preference.
  • Following this stage we will identify the final number of formal votes to be included in the exclusion process. Formal votes are those that have been completed correctly according to the law.
  • With the final number of formal votes we then calculate the absolute majority of 50% plus 1. This is the number of preferences required for a candidate to win which will ensure a candidate secures a majority.
  • The exclusion process is the means by which second and third preferences can move from one candidate to another to work towards who received the absolute majority and therefore win.
  • This process involves excluding the candidate who receives the least amount of preferences in a round of counting and redistributing those ballot papers to the candidate that was the second or third preference of the voter.
  • As soon as a candidate receives the absolute majority required to win, the election is declared.
  • Once declared, the ballot papers will be bundled and placed back into police security and the counting officials will commence counting the next constituency.

As stated on Thursday, the counting process is complex and laborious. The procedures in place were adopted with the paramount interest of safeguarding the vote of all Bougainvilleans who voted, and to ensure that each and every single vote is counted. I ask for continuing patience and restraint during this time.

I remind everyone that as the count progresses, results will be displayed progressively on the OBEC Results Website. The results for all constituencies will also be displayed on the visqueens at the three regional count centres.

The results on the website will show the results for all constituencies in the three regions plus the results for the presidential race. These results are progressive, preliminary and unofficial, and are subject to change. Final, official results will be available only with the Return of the Writs at the conclusion of the Scrutiny process.

I remind and encourage scrutineers and observers that they are welcome to attend the count centres, noting that only one scrutineer per candidate can be inside a count centre at any one time. Just as during polling, they are not to interfere with the process or the order of the counting. Their role is observe and if there are any concerns with counting officials not following the correct process, then they are able to discuss this with the Returning Officer for that constituency.

Finally, I once again thank everyone for their participation in this process. My office will continue to provide updates on the 2015 ABG General Election Facebook page, and the OBEC website.