Scrutineers of candidates for the Rigo Open seat stormed out of the counting venue at Kwikila today (08/07/17) after a ballot box was disputed. Count number 9 was briefly delayed as the ballot box from Hula to Kalo was questioned because a ballot paper contained a signature as well as initials of a Presiding Officer.
The scrutineers demanded that counting be stopped and an authority from the PNG Electoral Commission address them and clarify if both a signature and initials put on the back of a ballot paper was acceptable.
Scrutineers became rowdy around 1pm when count 9 was about to start. A scrutineer demanded clarification on the markings on the back of the ballot papers. They said some ballot papers had a signature, others had initials and others had both a signature and initials. They demanded for counting to stop and stormed out of the counting venue.
The security presence at the counting venue, managed to maintain order. Returning Officer, Virgil Waisa, said he would not allow counting to be stopped. He advised the scrutineers to take note of the concern and bring it up with the candidates to take action after the election process was complete. Scrutineers were not happy with the unresolved issue and most of them remained outside while the counting continued.
In the meantime, counting for Rigo has been generally slow. Central Provincial Election Steering Committee Chairman and Provincial Administrator, Gei Raga told the Rigo RO to end counting by this Sunday, so that Kwikila Secondary School students can begin classes for term 3 on Monday.