BRC to deliver accurate count, with just one announcement of results

The Bougainville Referendum Commission has now finalised the procedures to be used at the central Count Centre, and is satisfied that it will be an accurate, credible and secure process.

On Friday, Commissioners observed a mock scrutiny and counting of ballot papers and were pleased with the efficiency and organisation of the process.

Commissioner George Manu said, “we as a Commission were very satisfied that we have in place the best procedures to deliver an accurate and secure scrutiny and count of the ballot papers. We will be training our staff over the next few weeks in these procedures. Compared to other electoral events in Bougainville and Papua New Guinea, this count is a simple one – with just two options to assess for each ballot paper.”

“We observed how sealed ballot boxes will be delivered to the central count centre, verified, with ballot papers then also verified and checked before counting takes place. Only after verification and checking will all ballot papers be mixed, scrutinised and counted.”

The verification, scrutiny and count process will begin at the Buka Count Centre once polling closes on 6pm, 7 December. Officials will operate continuously overnight in three eight hour shifts to ensure the process is completed as efficiently as possible.

At a meeting of the full Commission over the weekend, BRC Chair Bertie Ahern said it had been decided that given the need to deliver a clear and credible process, a running tally of votes would not be provided.

“We are sure that the process will be safe, secure and will enable us to deliver an accurate and credible result. We are also following internationally recognised steps to ensure that the process is open to scrutineers, observers and the media.”

“With the steps in place, we hope to conclude counting well before the final return of Writ date – 20 December, and given the emotions of the vote, we will announce just one set of results, which will be the final one so as not to
confuse people.

“The BRC will announce the final number of votes cast for greater autonomy and independence, plus the number of informal ballot papers. No more, and no less.”

“We expect the vote will be a joyous, transparent and credible occasion, delivered to the highest of international electoral standards.”

Commissioners are currently conducting a final voter awareness roadshow in urban centres in Bougainville as well as more remote communities. The BRC has also mobilised over 800 Ward awareness officers with new voter
information materials containing in Tok Pisin the expanded definitions for greater autonomy and independence recently provided by the two governments, as well as the polling schedule for people to check where and when to vote.

Elsewhere, 1,500 polling officials are being trained in north, central and south, and locations outside Bougainville. Tomorrow final briefings for hundreds of Bougainville-based scrutineers and observers will be completed.

“We are happy to report that all operations are on track,” Mr Ahern said.

“We certainly don’t underestimate any of the logistics of the referendum, with poor communications, flooded roads and resource challenges, but we are impressed with the planning and commitment in place from a vast network of people and agencies who are supporting the Bougainville referendum, and most importantly, the voters.”

Complete roadshow program

Sat 9 Nov1200Petats Island
Sun 10 Nov1100Buka 1. Gagan Parish 2. Lemanmanu Parish
Mon 11 Nov1100Bel Isi Park, Buka town
Tue 12 Nov1300Arawa
Wed 13 Nov1000Marau
Thur 14 Nov0900Buin
Sat 16 Nov1600Lae
Sun 17 Nov1500Madang