3 Jul 2007

Thousands miss out voting in PNG's Lae Open electorate

10:36 am on 3 July 2007

Less than half the eligible voters in Papua New Guinea's Lae Open electorate voted during the one-day polling on Saturday.

The Post Courier says that out of the 60,000 eligible voters whose names are on the Common Roll, only about 23,000 voted.

Most of those that missed out live in settlements and villages on the fringes of the city, where security considerations meant an early stoppage of polling.

Electoral officials say the low return of votes resulted from delays in the start due to rain and also confusion over where people were supposed to vote.

Papua New Guinea's electoral commissioner, Andrew Trawen, has defended the intergrity of the country's electoral roll.

Close to one million names were removed from the roll after the last national election in 2002 because many of those on the list were considered to be non-existent voters.

But, some candidates have complained that their names and their supporters are not on the new roll and they have threatened to take legal action if the count of Saturday's goes against them.

Mr Trawen does not believe that any challenge would succeed.

"The rolls that were greeted are final, they are legal and I stand by what has been printed."