Just how bad the voting fraud is was revealed in numerous articles in today's National and Post Courier newspapers. Up to 40,000 votes are reported to have been hijacked in Hela, covering at least 4 electorates and many more polling locations. In at least 12 locations boxes and ballot papers were hijacked by people who proceeded to mark the papers themselves. In 3 areas the election was conducted by electoral officials who were not appointed by the electoral commission. All these are initial reports and Governor Agiru notes that ther might have been many more areas where votes were hijacked. Naturally he was most concerned about vote hijacking in his stronghold areas. In Ialibu Pangia 6 candidates have expressed their unhappiness with a process that Peter O'Neill's supporters used to keep them unknown to the voters, specifically that nearly all the pollilng officials had been compromised in some way. Bribery is the suspicion.
In the Imbonggu open of Southern Highlands, Former provincial administrator Pila Niningi was found to have in his vehicle at least 1,000 copies of the updated preliminary common roll of the district. What Niningi was planning to do with documents that were illegally in his possession is not hard to figure out although he admitted under police interrogation that he had paid people in the PNGEC for the documents. Another Imbonggu candidate Tony Undi was caught red handed destroying ballot boxes.
In Bougainville serious issues of ballot papers without the required serial numbers showed up, suggesting the use of counterfeit ballots to inflate votes. As was true elsewhere in the country, large numbers of Bougainvilleans found that their names had mysteriously disappeared from the common rolls.
In Kokopo, a candidate's supporters was caught red handed giving out money for votes.
The extent of voter fraud in the nation has now worried candidates in the NCD which are scheduled to vote today. As Margaret Loko, an NA candidate for the NCD regional seat said, double-voting and bribery could easily be happening in NCDC too.
Meanwhile, in response to widespread vote hijacking throughout the country, Michael Somare has raised concern over unofficial ballot boxes belonging to outgoing MPs in different parts of the country, used to change legitimate votes. "This is the start of a terrible trend in the country and should not be tolerated. I call on the Ombudsman Commission and the Office of the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates to investigate this issue and immediately disqualify those members of parliament from contesting the elections."
Widespread discrepancies in the voter rolls was also reported, and Luther Wenge said that the Morobe provincial government is considering taking the government and the Electoral Commission to court over the incomplete updating of the common roll. The same complaints were voiced in many parts of Madang province. PNGEC sent out common rolls to be corrected, the corrections were made, but apparently none of the corrections were entered. All this was predicted, that voter rolls would be purposely corrupted throughout the nation. But the PNGEC didn't listen, instead spending their efforts to try and cover up their total incompetence and perhaps corruption.
In the midst of the concern of the level of vote fraud that is taking place, Belden Namah said he was confident of winning his Vanimo-Green seat for the second time with a first count win of 20,000 votes.
Why would Mr Namah be so confident in view of what is unfolding throughout the nation?
Again it was all forecast but the PNGEC did nothing to stop the problem from occurring. Even yesterday, Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen didn't seem to know what was going on and could not confirm reports about candidates using fake ballot papers and boxes. Worst yet, when asked to comment on the disaster in SHP and Hela Provinces he said ,"the overall outcome of polling int those provinces was satisfactory."
Obviously, Trewan doesn't consider the hijacking of up to 40,000 votes a problem! And the adverts are still running daily in the newspapers about "no multiple voting" and the use of indelible ink while reports are surfacing everywhere of easy ways to remove the ink and vote again.