PNG election report shows extensive voter disenfranchisement

4:31 pm on 10 November 2017

Voter bribery in Papua New Guinea's 2017 general election was rife in Highlands electorates, according to Transparency International PNG.

Polling booth PNG election 2017

Polling booth PNG election 2017 Photo: RNZI/ Johnny Blades

The NGO has released its observation report of the election, which found that 54 percent of MPs in the Highlands were elected through bribery or intimidation of voters.

These election problems were recorded in other regions of the country too, but nowhere was it quite as rampant as the Highlands.

Among the other findings in Transparency's report were widespread instances of people having their voting rights denied.

This was due to a range of factors including voters having their voting rights taken by others.

According to the report, polling officials were responsible for many delays which also disenfranchised voters.

A lack of secrecy in voting was noted in Highlands and Momase regions too, as was a lack of impartiality by security personnel at poling stations.

Transparency said that voters were too tolerant of their rights not being upheld.

"We want to remind all citizens that their core role is not only marking their ballot paper to choose their leaders, but to have the courage to protect the integrity of the elections," said Transparency PNG's Lawrence Stephens.

Transparency has recommended major changes in the organisation of the Electoral Commission, and enforcement of existing laws.

It's also recommended update and verification of the electoral roll which was full of errors in many electorates.

Papua New Guinea's Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato.

Papua New Guinea's Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

PNG Electoral Commissioner, Patilias Gamato, said that despite the report's findings the 2017 National Election was successful because it achieved the outcome of results in all electorates.

He told local media that he had promised not to fail any election in the leadup to the election and was able to deliver on that promise.