What A Compromised By-Election Looks Like in PNG

Brian Kramer a contestant in the Madang By-Elections
Brian Kramer a candidate in the Madang By-Elections

By Brian Kramer

The declaration of the Madang By_Election has come under a shadow of uncertainty after 10,000 valid ballot-papers were discovered by
candidates.

The discovery now confirms the candidates suspicious all along that the integrity of the Madang By-Election had been compromised

The candidates first raised their concerns when the Returning Officer Adolf Duangha refused to disclose the serial numbers of the ballot-papers both during the polling period and counting process.

It is standard procedure and practice in elections that serial numbers of used /unused ballot-papers were provided to scrutineers. This information is vital to ensure proper scrutiny over the process. Such practices affirm the principles of democratic elections prescribed by Section 126 (Elections) of the Constitution are observed and upheld.

Further disclosure of such information is a mandatory right under Section 51 (freedom to information) of the Constitution. This was later confirmed by Mr. Trawen in writing.

Further irregularities included ballot-papers numbering in the thousands were distinctly marked in the same handwriting and pen and reappear in almost every ballot-box.

A another point of contention was that a comparison of the current results against 2012 figures show that the declared candidate more than 3 times the primary votes that he did at this stage last year. 2012 (2,375 votes) versus 2013 (15373, votes).

The candidates argued it was beyond belief that a candidate who is a first time Member of Parliament, having only held office for less than nine months, before being ousted after being found guilty of bribery and fraud in relation to his election could poll 48% of the primary votes counted so far. These results are so incredible and unreasonable that no reasonable person can accept it.

The candidates petitioned the Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen who gave written instructions that polling officials return disclosing serial numbers and signatures be given to the candidates scrutineers. A final quality check was also to be carried out on all the ballot-papers before the elimination.

The Returning Officer however defied the instructions of the Commissioner skipped the final quality check and proceeded straight to elimination.

Madang By-Election candidates inspecting the 10,000 valid ballot papers
Madang By-Election candidates inspecting the 10,000 valid ballot papers
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