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]

BRC published Voter Roll Reference Guide

Background information on the publication

1. Introduction

The Referendum Roll will be developed through a three-phased enrolment process. In the first phase community governments verified the base 2015 ABG electoral rolls (Base Working Rolls) against Ward Voter Registries.

The Base Working Rolls have been updated and printed as Working Rolls for the second phase. During this second phase Ward Recorders will visit every household to ensure that all eligible electors verify that their names are correct on the Working Roll. Eligible electors who are not able to locate their names on the Working Roll, or who have not previously enrolled must complete a Claim for Enrolment form.

The third phase of enrolment will be the public display and verification of the Preliminary Referendum Roll.

2. Eligibility to Vote in the Referendum

To be eligible to be included on the Referendum Voter Roll a citizen must:

  • Be a citizen of PNG;
  • Be at least 18 years of age by the estimated date of the Referendum;
  • Be ordinarily resident in the ward and so resided for the last 6 months;
  • Be of full capacity;
  • Not be under sentence of death or sentence of imprisonment for a period of more than 9 months;
  • Have not in the last 3 years committed an electoral offence;
  • Non-resident Bougainvillean are eligible for enrolment under the categories as outlined on the Claim for Enrolment form, and will be enrolled in specific locations outside of Bougainville.

Note: It is mandatory under the Organic Law for ALL eligible electors to be on the Referendum Roll.

3. Household Contact

The Ward Recorder should introduce themselves at each household by showing their BRC identification and say,

“Hello, I am the Ward Recorder working with the Bougainville Referendum
Commission to prepare the Referendum Electoral Roll. Under the Law it is
required that any resident of Bougainville who has turned 18 years of age,
or who will turn 18 years of age before the Referendum must be enrolled.
You must be on the Referendum Electoral Roll to participate in the
This Working Roll is being used as the basis to update the Referendum
Electoral Roll, and must be updated to include the names of those who have
turned 18 or changed locations, and to remove or update the names of the
deceased or those who have changed status.
I would like to assist you to ensure that your name and eligible members of
your household are on the Electoral Roll, to ensure that the details are
correct, and to make sure that you can participate in the Referendum.”

Searching the Working Roll

To assist in searching the Working Roll for elector’s names, the Ward Recorder should ask the elector if they have any form of identification. Identification should be used to clarify the spelling of the elector’s name, and to therefore assist in finding the name on the roll. If the elector has no identification, ask them to spell their name or to write it on a piece of paper. The Ward Recorder should also try:

  • Interchanging the elector’s first and last names.
  • Ask the elector for alternate names or spellings that they may have previously enrolled under.

3. Elector Name Found – Update the Working Roll

Preparations commence for the Referendum Voter Roll

BUKA – The Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC) is partnering with the Department of Community Government to ensure that all eligible electors are enrolled to vote in the referendum.

It is our priority that all eligible electors are included on the Referendum Voter Roll,” said Commissioner George Manu, co-chair at the BRC-TC. “Through our partnership with the Department of Community Government, we are ensuring that all eligible electors are able to participate in this democratic process.

The Referendum Voter Roll will be developed through a three-phased process. In the first phase, community governments will verify the 2015 ABG electoral rolls against Ward Voter Registries.

Phase One of the enrolment process is almost complete,” said Commissioner Patilias Gamato, co-chair at the BRCTC. “After that, Ward Recorders will go door to door to ensure that all eligible electors verify their enrolment details and to enroll new voters for their voting districts.

During the second phase, eligible electors who are not able to locate their names on the Working Roll, or who have not previously enrolled, must complete a Claim for Enrolment or Transfer form.

The third phase of enrolment will be the public display and verification of the Preliminary Referendum Roll. The BRC will communicate when Phase Two and Phase Three will be launched at a later stage.

To be included on the Referendum Voter Roll, an elector must be eligible to vote in national elections in Bougainville, and have been resident in a voting district in Bougainville for a period of not less than 6 months.

Separate initiatives will be undertaken to enroll non-resident  Bougainvilleans and to enable their participation in the referendum.

The Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC) is the independent commission established by both the national and Bougainville governments to conduct the Bougainville referendum. The BRC and referendum processes are guided by the PNG Constitution,Bougainville Constitution, Organic Law on Peace Building in Bougainville, the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the BRC Charter.

Before the Commission is fully appointed, the BRC is governed by a four-member Transitional Committee (BRCTC) invested with full powers, consisting of the national and Bougainville chief-secretaries and the national and Bougainville electoral commissioners.

The BRC is founded on principles of neutrality, impartiality, transparency, professionalism, inclusivity.