Limited Preferential Voting system

Compared with the first-past-the-post system, the LPV system is arguably more democratic for PNG because it allows three choices for a voter. In an electorate with a large number of candidates, it also ensures that an MP is elected to office with more than 50 per cent of the votes from his/her electorate.

Under the first-past-the-post system in the 2002 national election, women in the Highlands generally did not vote. Their right to vote as individuals was blatantly abused and denied them. There was absolutely no freedom of choice, no freedom of expression and no freedom of movement in the Highlands. The election atmosphere was anarchic and the rule of law was non-existent in most parts of the Highlands during the election. Yet the MPs in power in the current Parliament and their supporters have not been held accountable for their illegal activities and inappropriate behaviour during the 2002 election, which clearly infringed the rights of voters, especially women. Even under the LPV system, women did not vote in the by-election held in the Anglimp South Wahgi open electorate. Instead, individuals appointed by contesting candidates marked the ballot paper for others, especially women. How can we ensure that women, indeed all voters, exercise their right to vote? A provision needs to be included in the LPV Act to effectively nullify the counting of votes for candidates who engage in bribery, intimidation and violence during an election. All candidates, and ‘warlords’ in particular, ought to be made accountable for their actions. In addition, separate polling booths for male and female voters should be provided to allow independent voting. In this way, the principles of secret and free voting, as well as more choice for voters, can be exercised effectively.

All the measures suggested above could help strengthen democracy in PNG.