The Bougainville Referendum Commission has opened applications for postal voting for those who can’t get to a polling place during the polling period.
Speaking in Buka, Acting Chief Referendum Officer Desmond Tsianai said that the BRC is committed to ensuring full access to voting for all eligible voters through the SMS Roll Check and now the Postal Voting services.
“We are pleased to offer postal voting for those who cannot join us during the polling period. Under the Organic Law, postal voting provides the flexibility for Bougainvilleans who may otherwise miss out on being able to vote,” Mr. Tsianai said.
“ The BRC wants to ensure that everyone has a chance to participate in the referendum, so we are making sure people can exercise their rights if they are travelling away from home, or if their health or mobility would otherwise make it difficult for them to get to a polling place,” he said.
“Postal voting is safe and secure. The BRC will note on the roll that a voter has been issued a postal vote. The voter fills in a declaration which is signed and witnessed. Those voters will not be able to have an ordinary vote issued during the polling.”
“Postal voting is secret. The voter places their ballot paper into a secrecy envelope. There is nothing on that envelope to indicate the identity of the voter,” Mr. Tsianai said.
Any enrolled voter can apply for a postal vote so long as they meet the following criteria:
- Being more than 16km away from the nearest polling booth during the polling period (this includes polling booths set up outside of Bougainville, in PNG, Australia or Solomon Islands)
- Being seriously ill/infirm/disabled, about to give birth or caring for a young child
- Holding religious beliefs that prevent them from attending a polling booth to vote
Mr. Tsianai said the BRC postal and the SMS roll check services are some examples of raising the bar for inclusive electoral processes.
Applications for Postal Voting can be made by using the BRC application form or in writing. The application form and further information are available now on the BRC website, at BRC regional offices and the PNGEC office in Port Moresby. Application forms and further information can also be requested via email at [email protected].
After applications have been received, the BRC will make arrangements to deliver the postal voting pack to the voter.
Applications for postal voting can be received up to and including 22 November.