BRC TAKES ENROLMENT TO REMOTE PNG

The Bougainville Referendum Commission is targeting the enrolment of hundreds of Bougainvilleans living in remote mining and agricultural communities in PNG for the next fortnight until 19 July 2019.

Chief Referendum Officer, Mauricio Claudio said it had identified large groups of Bougainvilleans up to 1,000 living and working at remote areas who have been unable to reach their provincial PNG Electoral Office, but were eligible to enrol.

The Commission has identified Lihir Island; Ramu, Madang; Ok Tedi Town and Pogera as the four largest communities it had the resources to reach. “Bougainvilleans living in these areas, despite their remoteness, are strongly engaged in the referendum,” Claudio said.

The Commission is currently working with Bougainville associations, community leaders and employers in each of the four remote locations to provide for a few days for enrolment. It encouraged people to check the Commission’s facebook page and media for information.

Despite the previous enrolment extension, we are still getting information that Bougainvilleans have not yet enrolled and
we urgently encourage them to go to their provincial PNG Electoral Office in the provincial capital.”

While everyone wants a good referendum roll, all parties including the BRC are keen to see the referendum vote take place as soon as possible. We are balancing both these demands, to deliver both an inclusive referendum and credible referendum.”

The Commission’s first estimates are that approximately 9,000 enrolment forms have been completed outside Bougainville, while an intensive and extended village by village process within Bougainville has seen nearly 50,000 new forms completed – however these would all need to be checked and verified, and some were still being transported back to Bougainville. The original 2015 Election Roll had 174,000 enrolments. “We have been delighted by the response of Bougainvilleans, both in Bougainville and outside Bougainville, who have never enrolled to vote in an election before, now putting their name on the referendum roll,” Mr Claudio said.

Thank you to everyone who has been active to get themselves to an enrolment location. It is now the task of the Commission, through our three AROs and regional officers, to go through all forms, quality check, data entry and then cross check all names.”

A preliminary Referendum Roll will be on public display in all Wards in Bougainville.

People will have one last chance to check their name, correct misspellings and add their name if it’s still not on the roll. It is our strong desire to use this people for Bougainvilleans to tell if the roll is good, and make any final corrections and additions to ensure all and only eligible voters can vote on polling day.”

For anyone in Bougainville not yet on the roll, go to your BRC regional centre in Buka, Arawa and Buin – check if you are already on the roll, and if not, fill out an enrolment form.

BRC ENROLMENT STARTS TOMORROW, SOLOMON ISLANDS

Enrolment of Bougainvilleans living in Solomon Islands for the Bougainville Referendum starts tomorrow at the PNG High Commission offices, Honiara.

On Thursday a team from the Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC) arrived with enrolment forms for eligible Bougainvilleans for the upcoming Bougainville Referendum scheduled for 12 October.

The referendum is part of the Bougainville Peace Agreement signed between the National Government and Bougainville leaders in 2001, bringing an end to a decade of conflict. The choice to be put to Bougainvilleans is Greater Autonomy or Independence.

Enrolment in Honiara will take place Friday, Saturday, Monday and Tuesday (5-6 July and 8-9 July), before the team departs for Gizo to open enrolment for Thursday to Saturday 11-13 July at a location to be confirmed.

On an interview with Radio Australia’s Tok Pisin program, BRC Commissioner Mr Patrick Nisira said the Commission was committed to providing for eligible Bougainvilleans have an opportunity to vote, whether they live in Bougainville, elsewhere in Papua New Guinea, and now Solomon Islands.”

The Commission now calls on Bougainvilleans to make sure they attended enrolment for the short period of time as online or electronic enrolment is not available,” Mr Nisira said.

People must enrol to be on the Referendum Roll to vote.” The voter eligibility criteria, established by the two governments of Papua New Guinea and Bougainville for non- resident Bougainvilleans, are:

  • Have links to Bougainville either by birth, adoption, marriage, or clan
  • Be born on or before 12 October 2001
  • Are a PNG citizen, and
  • Are entitled to vote in PNG National Elections

People must satisfy all criteria. People must be a PNG citizen and cannot be a dual citizen.

The decision of overseas enrolment in Honiara and Gizo (Solomon Islands), and Cairns and Brisbane (Australia) was made by the Bougainville Referendum Commission meeting with Chair Bertie Ahern on Friday 21 June, in response to the strong desire of Bougainvilleans living overseas to have their say in the referendum.

The Commission thanked the support from the PNG Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for their support in opening PNG High Commission offices in Honiara this Saturday 6 July, and forewarned that given the expected limited enrolments and resources available, only a few days would be available in each location.

BRC ANNOUNCES ENROLMENT – SOLOMON ISLANDS

The Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC) has announced enrolment dates for Bougainvilleans living in Solomon Islands.

  • Honiara – 5-6 July and 8-9 July (PNG High Commission, Honiara)
  • Gizo – 11-13 July (location to be confirmed)

The decision of overseas enrolment in Honiara and Gizo (Solomon Islands), and Cairns and Brisbane (Australia) was made by the Bougainville Referendum Commission meeting with Chair Bertie Ahern on Friday 21 June, in response to the strong desire of Bougainvilleans living overseas to have their say in the referendum.

In a media interview yesterday with Radio Australia Tok Pisin service, BRC Commissioner Patrick Nisiria said that with
limited resources, the Commission believed the four centres captured the biggest populations of overseas Bougainvilleans.

“The Commission has to strike the right balance between making enrolment available to Bougainville living overseas within the given timeframe and resources, and the need to maintain a secure process where only eligible people are enrolled,” Mr Nisira said.

The voter eligibility criteria established by the two governments for non-resident Bougainvilleans, or those living outside Bougainville, are:

  • Have links to Bougainville either by birth, adoption, marriage, or clan
  • Be born on or before 12 October 2001
  • Are a PNG citizen, and
  • Are entitled to vote in PNG National Elections

People must satisfy all criteria. People must be a PNG citizen and cannot be a dual citizen.

Mr Nisira said the Commission was committed to having all eligible Bougainvilleans have an opportunity to vote, whether they live in Bougainville, elsewhere in Papua New Guinea, and now Solomon Islands and Australia.

“Overseas enrolment is a first for Papua New Guinea, so there is a lot of new work to be done – but we confident we’re making every effort to ensure as many eligible voters can have their say on polling day,” Mr Nisira said.
The Commission thanked the support from the PNG Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for their support in opening PNG High Commission offices in Honiara this Saturday 6 July, and forewarned that given the expected limited enrolments and resources available, only a few days would be available in each location.

“Time is short, so people should be active in preparing themselves to be at enrolment centres on time,” Mr Nisira said. “Our Facebook page and website, or local Bougainville Associations are the best ways to be informed.”

The Commission understood that some Bougainvilleans may miss out, either because PNG citizenship is required to enrol, or because they lived in other locations around the world, but that face-to-face enrolment was the best way to establish the identity of voters and ensure only eligible voters are on the referendum roll.

MORE TIME FOR BOUGAINVILLEAN ENROLMENT IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA

The Bougainville Referendum Commission has extended the enrolment of Bougainvilleans living outside of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea until 8 July 2019.

Chief Referendum Officer, Mauricio Claudio said high voter turnout and delays in delivering enrolment forms to the more remote provinces meant more time was needed to make sure every eligible Bougainvillean had the chance to enrol.

“We have been delighted by the response of Bougainvilleans, both in Bougainville and outside Bougainville, who have never enrolled to vote in an election before, now putting their name on the referendum roll,” Mr Claudio said.

Thank you to everyone across the country who have been active in traveling to their provincial PNG Electoral Commission office to enrol – you now have until Monday 8 July to be included in this phase two of enrolment.
We know that conducting this historic referendum across Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, and now Solomon Islands and Australia is new and would have it’s challenges – but our commitment remains to work within the given laws, resources and timeline to ensure Bougainvilleans can have the opportunity to vote.

In Bougainville, Ward Recorders are handing in their phase two enrolment forms. All forms will be quality checked, before data entry begins to develop a preliminary referendum roll.

In August, the preliminary roll will be publicly displayed in all Wards for people to check their name, spelling and complete an enrolment form if needed.

For anyone in Bougainville not yet on the roll, please go to your BRC regional centre in Buka, Arawa and Buin – check if you are already on the roll, and if not, fill out an enrolment form.

In August, the Commission will conduct phase three of creating the referendum roll, which will be the last chance to enrol.

We will be doing mass awareness before then to tell people how this short stage will work,” the Chief Referendum Officer assured. “People will have one last chance to check their name, correct misspellings and add their name if it’s still not on the roll.”

The Bougainville Referendum Commission is also mobilising international teams to travel to Solomon Islands and Australia to enroll Bougainvilleans living in Honiara, Gizo, Brisbane and Cairns.

We encourage people to keep active in getting themselves informed about vital parts of the referendum including the current voter registration process.

BRC ANNOUNCES ENROLMENT IN AUSTRALIA AND SOLOMON ISLANDS

The Chair of the Bougainville Referendum Commission has announced that enrolment of Bougainvilleans living in Solomon Islands and Australia will soon go ahead.

Face to face enrolment will be available in July in four locations: Honiara and Gizo, Solomon Islands, and Brisbane and Cairns, Australia. These are the main population centres for Bougainvilleans living overseas.

Commission Chair, Hon. Bertie Ahern, said the Commission had met on Friday to discuss current progress of enrolment and the strong desire of Bougainvilleans living overseas to have their say in the referendum.

The Commission has to strike the right balance between making enrolment available to Bougainville living overseas, with the need to maintain a secure process where only eligible people are enrolled,” Mr Ahern said.
Face to face enrolment is the best way to establish the identity of voters, and ensure only eligible voters are on the referendum roll to vote.
However, given the expected numbers and resources available, Mr Ahearn forewarned that each location will have only a few days enrolment each, and that people needed to be active in preparing themselves and getting the
message out to be at enrolment centres on time.

The Commission will undertake advance awareness to get people ready. The time will be short, and people will need to move when the time comes,” Ahern said. “Following our Facebook page and website, or getting in touch
with your local Bougainville Associations and local media are key ways to be informed.

As an international process, the Commission is working in close cooperation with the PNG Department of Foreign Affairs to determine the details of logistics of where and when enrolment can be done in the four locations.
Overseas enrolment is a first for Papua New Guinea, so there is a lot of new work to be done – but we confident we’re making every effort to ensure as many eligible voters can have their say on polling day.

Mr Ahern said he understood some may miss out, either because of the PNG citizenship requirement, or because they are living far and wide in other places around the world.

Unfortunately, we are governed by the laws decided under the Bougainville Peace Agreement and by the two governments, and have limited resources to conduct overseas enrolment – we believe this decision will open the
referendum to as many Bougainvilleans as possible,
” Ahern said.

The voter eligibility criteria established by the two governments for non-resident Bougainvilleans, or those outside Bougainville, are:

  • Have links to Bougainville either by birth, adoption, marriage, or clan
  • Be born on or before 12 October 2001
  • Are a PNG citizen, and
  • Are entitled to vote in PNG National Elections

People must satisfy all criteria. People must be a PNG citizen and cannot be a dual citizen.

BRC RAMPS UP AWARENESS FOR VOTER REGISTRATION

The Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC) has ramped up its awareness, sending SMS messages direct to people’s mobile phones.

Starting this week, people living in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville on the Digicel network are receiving short SMS messages to their phone with awareness and updates about the referendum process – BRC Tok Save.

Chief Referendum Officer Mauricio Claudio said that as the Commission gains more staffing and resources, it has been able to boost much needed awareness across face to face, voter materials, website, media, Facebook, and now mobile phone.

“This referendum is a first for Bougainville and Papua New Guinea, and as a new electoral process with its own laws and guidelines, we need to get awareness out across all mediums because not everyone has the same access to information,” Claudio said.

The Commission now has over 500 trained awareness officers covering every Ward and urban centre in Bougainville, a website, Facebook page and is getting out through media and mobile phone as much as possible.

Recent Bougainville Audience Research suggests almost 75% of the population has access to a mobile phone – and use it to give and receive information, however access to mass media is low and there is a preference for face to face for question and answers.

“Our aim is a free, fair and informed referendum, meaning people have information to be empowered to participate in the referendum and to vote.”

“We encourage people to be active in getting themselves informed about vital parts of the referendum including the current registration process.”

“We are now completing the second, extended phase of house to house enrolment by Ward Recorders this weekend. However, people should soon look out for information about the final phase of enrolment in August, the public display of the draft referendum roll in every Ward.”

“People have last chance to check their name, correct misspellings and add their name if it’s still not on the roll. This will happen in August.”

BRC: ENROLMENT HAS NOT CLOSED OR FINISHED

“Voter enrolment and updating of the Referendum Roll has not finished and will continue until the issue of writs for the Referendum and until the job is done. We will keep open beyond June 23 the three BRC regional centres in Buka, Arawa and Buin for voters yet to see their Ward Recorder.”

This was the message from the Chief Referendum Officer as phase two of the referendum enrolment process draws to a close.

“We congratulate all Bougainville Ward Recorders who have done the hard work of phase one and two – removing old or ineligible names off the 2015 election roll, and enrolling new voters in each Ward,” Mr. Claudio said.

“Thank you also to Bougainvilleans across the region who have been active in ensuring their name is on the roll and enrolling if not, including the hundreds who attended special regional enrolment stations at the BRC/OBEC offices in Buka, Arawa and Buin over the weekend.”

“We know that because of logistic challenges, including getting to Atolls and remote communities, that some Ward Recorders are yet to complete their given task, which was to ensure all eligible voters in their Ward are enrolled. Their job is clear – they must keep working hard and quickly over the next few days until their job is done.”

Outside Bougainville and within Papua New Guinea, Bougainvilleans still have another eight days until Monday 1 July to visit their provincial PNG Electoral Office to enroll. On Bougainville, persons eligible to enroll can visit BRC regional centres in Buka, Arawa and Buin to enroll until the issue-of-writ date of August 16.

“The referendum timeline is short. We have until the issue of Writs in 16 August which is the official close of enrolment, so the BRC cannot make late changes and extensions at this stage without affecting the quality of the roll, compromising the law or jeopardizing the Referendum dates set by the two governments.” Claudio said.

Before the issue of the Writ, there will be a third phase of enrolment, a one-week public display of the preliminary Referendum Roll in each Ward.
“Phase three will offer another chance to enrol. We will be doing mass awareness before then to tell people how this will work,” the Chief Referendum Officer assured. “People will have one last chance to check their name, correct misspellings and add their name if it’s still not on the preliminary Referendum Roll. This will happen early August. The Bougainville Referendum Commission will also enrol overseas Bougainvilleans living in four main population centres in the Solomon Islands and Australia. The Commission will be releasing enrolment information for Bougainvilleans living in Honiara and Gizo in the Solomon Islands, and in Brisbane and Cairns in Australia soon, and we are extremely pleased to be able to provide this opportunity to include Bougainvilleans living far and wide in the Referendum because we know their desire is strong.”

There has been a lot of misinformation on social media regarding the enrolment process – and this is to be expected for such a new and historic process conducted within very tight timelines according to laws, funds and resources – so please, go to the Bougainville Referendum Commission Facebook page, our website for the correct information, or contact your
BRC Awareness Officer or Ward Recorder in each Ward.

“We encourage people to be active in getting themselves informed about vital parts of the referendum including the current voter registration process.”

BRC: SPECIAL BOUGAINVILLE URBAN CENTRE ENROLMENT

The Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC) has made special arrangements for enrolment this weekend in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

From tomorrow (Friday) until Sunday, the Commission will have special enrolment stations in the three regional centres: Buka, Arawa and Buin town, and has directed village Ward Recorders to locate themselves in one central place in each Ward.

Chief Referendum Officer Mauricio Claudio said the Commission has heard people’s concerns regarding late enrolments, especially those working in town.

“We understand everyone’s desire to take part in the referendum and we’ve been overwhelmed by enrolments so far – so thank you to everyone involved,” Claudio said.

“To all those who, because of work commitments or otherwise, have not seen their urban Ward Recorder, we’ve set up special centres at the three BRC regional offices for people to visit, and if their name is not already on the draft referendum roll, enrol as a new voter in that constituency.”

“We have also directed village Ward Recorders to set up in one central place to make them easy to find.”

“This is the final week of Phase two enrolment in Bougainville. We cannot change it, there is no time. However, there will be a third and final phase, the display in Wards of the draft referendum roll – so people can check and add any last names,” Claudio assured.

The Commission is taking registration very seriously as the foundation of a credible referendum. The three-step enrolment used is a much more extensive, thorough process than happens for normal elections.

“We assure people that the Commission is working tirelessly. We have been given an historic task and a tight schedule to deliver a free and fair referendum – one that Bougainville can be proud of and one that has international credibility.”

“We can also assure those who fear normal election rolls, where they turn up on polling day to find their name is not on the roll on election day, is something we aim to avoid. We understand the process is new and we have limited time, but we believe the referendum laws allow us to avoid old problems of people not on the roll in their constituency – but we need your support.”

“For this weekend, the message is clear, people must seek out their village Ward Recorder, or if they live in an urban constituency, go to the regional centre, these are the old OBEC offices or next to them in Buka, Arawa and Buin.”

“This referendum is a first for PNG, and so we need the support of all people and leaders to make it happen. People must not sit back in their homes. They must get out this weekend, talk to their Ward Recorder and enrol if they are a new voter in their constituency.”

Locations are:

  • Buka Urban – BRC Northern Regional Office, Matanhei building, backstreet Buka town
  • Arawa Urban – BRC Central Regional Office, Arawa town
  • Buin Urban – BRC Southern Regional Office long Buin town

The BRC registration process has followed three phases:

1. Ward Recorders compared 2015 electoral roll to Ward Register, removing names of deceased or those no longer living there

2. Ward Recorders visit house to house to enrol new voters not previously on the roll in that constituency

3. Public display of draft referendum roll in every Ward. People have last chance to check their name, correct misspellings and add their name if it’s still not on the roll. This will happen in August.

Bougainville Referendum Fact Sheets and Posters

What is the Bougainville Referendum Commission? What is a Referendum?

I am a Bougainvillean but I live elsewhere in PNG. Am I eligible to vote in the referendum?

Referendum Roll Update process

Should I enroll on the referendum roll?

I live in Bougainville. Am I eligible to vote in the referendum?

Polling for the Bougainville Referendum to start on 12 October 2019

The Bougainville Referendum Commission welcomes the agreement of the Government of Papua New Guinea and the Autonomous Bougainville Government that writs will be issued for the Bougainville Referendum on 16 August 2019 so that polling for the referendum will start on 12 October 2019.

The agreement of the two governments is a step forward in the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement. It marks concrete progress by replacing a tentative referendum target date for an real, concrete date on which the Referendum will take place.

Crucially for the Commission, the agreement by the two government gives the BRC time to conduct a full enrolment exercise across Bougainville, the details of which will be announced very soon. We urge all persons eligible to enrol for the Referendum to take the opportunity to enrol when it is offered.

The Commission is hopeful that with the new agreement reached this week there will be swift progress on the necessary supporting tasks that will enable the Commission to be fully operational. To this end, we have welcomed the commitment of the national government to release funds to the Commission. Progress in the Commission’s work is only possible if these funds are indeed remitted and available for use by the Commission in a prompt and timely manner.

The Commission remains fully committed to its tasks and will continue to inform the people of Bougainville as work continues towards the referendum.

For further details, contact:

Mauricio Claudio, BRC Chief Referendum Officer, on [email protected]