Mr Tarcisius Binna, together with two other visually impaired people, have voted in the historic Referendum.

Yesterday the BRC made special arrangements in coordination with the Bougainville Disabled Organisation at BRC’s regional office in Buka.

BRC Returning Officer, John Sisiesi,said he was responding to news that Mr Binna had not been offered provisional voting despite enrolling,after his name was not found on the referendum roll.

“This shouldn’t have happened, and we’re sorry that it did. This was a normal case of someone needing to be issued with a provisional vote – where they have enrolled, but their name is not on the referendum roll where they vote,” Mr Sisiesi said.

Mr Tarcisius Binna said he felt privileged to be given the chance to vote.

“Despite the issues at the polling place, I am very happy that I’ve been given this opportunity to exercise my democratic right, despite being a blind person.”

Chief Referendum Officer Mauricio Claudio apologized to Mr Binna and his family and was grateful of the support of the Chair of the Bougainville Disabled Organisation to also bring two other women with disabilities who had not been able to reach their polling place.

“In a few rare instances we have seen this issue come up where people should have been issued with a provisional ballot. Unfortunately,it can be expected with the introduction of provisional voting for the first time in Bougainville or Papua New Guinea.It’s not an issue related to Mr Binna’s disability.”

Cathreen Sak Lasin and Maria Hagaa fromTonsu Constituency were also assisted by officials and family members to cast their vote, expressing their heartful thanks to the BRC for to making it possible to cast their votes due to illness.

“We’re happy now and this really shows BRCs’ guiding principle of an inclusive process.”

The Chief Referendum Officer said like all provisional votes, the names will be checked against the entire electronic referendum roll at the count centre before being admitted to the count.

“Provisional voting, postal voting and polling teams in every Ward in Bougainville are just three of several ways that the BRC has tried to make this referendum as inclusive as possible for every voter to cast their ballot.

“Despite a few cases the feedback we’ve received is that provisional voting has worked very well to capture people enrolled but not appearing where they vote – such as the case of Mr Binna.”

Mr Atua, Chairman of the Bougainville Disabled Organisation said he was witnessing something good.

“This is the first time something like this has happened for the disabled, something special so we can vote – so we’re happy.”

The Organic Law allows the Returning Officer to vary the polling schedule to respond to unforeseen contingencies. The ballot box has now been sealed and transported to the Count Centre.