9 Sep 2019

Bougainville Referendum body encourages voters to check roll

3:43 pm on 9 September 2019

Bougainvilleans eligible to vote in the upcoming referendum on independence from Papua New Guinea, have been encouraged to check the Preliminary Referendum Roll.

A tentative date of June 15th 2019 has been set for a referendum on possible independence in the Autonomous Papua New Guinea region of Bougainville.

Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

The Bougainville Referendum Commission said people should make sure they are enrolled to vote where they intend to vote.

From today in the autonomous PNG region, ward recorders began displaying the roll for inspection, correction and objections until 26 September.

Outside Bougainville in PNG, the roll will be on public display at PNG Electoral Commission provincial offices from 11 to 20 September.

This month, the roll will also be displayed for a few days at four overseas locations - Brisbane and Cairns in Australia; Gizo and Honiara in Solomon Islands.

A four Kina refundable fee is required to lodge an objection against the name of anyone on the Preliminary Roll. This will be refunded where the person is found to not be eligible to be enrolled.

Chief Referendum Officer Mauricio Claudio said that so far the Commission had witnessed historic levels of engagement by Bougainvilleans in the process.

"Thousands of people have got themselves enrolled, transferred or helped us remove the names of the deceased," Mr Claudio said.

"Once more, we are calling upon people to support us through this final quality checking step," Mr Claudio said.

"If you are eligible and want to vote in the November referendum, now is the time to check the roll, see your Ward Recorder or BRC official, and help us create a credible referendum roll - one that all can trust," Mr Claudio said.

While the Commission will provide provisional ballots to those enrolled but voting in another location, it is encouraging people to be enrolled in the location they plan to vote.

"Anyone on the final Referendum Roll will be allowed to vote, but to make sure your name appears at the polling centre you intend to vote at, now is the time to check and transfer," Mr Claudio said.

"One of the key reasons the two governments provided a six-week extension was to allow for this three-week display in Bougainville, and shorter periods outside the region," Mr Claudio said.

"Now we are asking people to check the roll and tell us if we've got it right."

The Preliminary Referendum Roll numbers are as follows:

Autonomous Region of Bougainville 190,254

Outside Bougainville in PNG 11,505

Overseas (Australia and Solomon Islands) 269

The Chief Referendum Officer said 27 September, the issue of Writs, marks the closure of the roll to new voters and any changes. Polling begins on 23 November.

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