25/08/2012 17:05

Multiple voting is a sin. Catholics in five provinces to go for Confession

By Fr Frank Arnold

Since I came to Papua New Guinea I went through four national elections, in which multiple voting was not only common but a deed to be proud of. It never happened to me that a Catholic parishioner came to confession and accused himself or herself of having cast his or her vote more than once. I infer from that that multiple voting is not considered sinful. But according to the Christian ethics it is sinful since not only goes against the civil law but also against God’s law which forbids us to cheat.

   How big is the practice of multiple voting in PNG? Let us look at some figures. On August 9th, 2012, on page 28 of the National Newspaper, a Chart appeared with the number of the 2012 election voters in all PNG provinces. Since PNG held a census in 2011 and, usually the rate of the population over 18 years (eligible voters) varies between 51% and 53%, we can get an idea in which province the common roll was particularly inflated and/or there were many multiple voting. Table 1 gives the provinces’ population according to 2011 Census, the estimate of the population eligible to vote according to the Census, and the actual number of voters as given in the above mentioned newspaper.

Tab.1: Total Provinces’ population, estimated +18 population, and number of voters (2012)

Province

Population

2011

Estimated

+18(53%)

Voters 2012

South. Highlands

515,511

273,221

378,953

Hela

352,698

186,930

170,383

Enga

452,596

239,835

241,064

West.Highlands

352,934

187,037

310,252

Jiwaka

341,928

181,207

81,267

Simbu

403,772

214,014

286,806

East. Highlands

582,159

308,313

283,825

West Sepik

227,657

120,658

78,543

East Sepik

433,481

229,755

279,696

Madang

487,460

258,322

192,593

Morobe

646.876

342,844

284,745

Oro

176,206

93,389

37,222

Milne Bay

269,954

143,075

127,104

Central

237,016

125,618

138,163

NCD

318,128

168,593

65,668

Gulf

121,128

64,198

65,154

Manus

50,321

26,670

23,722

West New Britain

242,676

128,618

72,109

East New Britain

271,250

143,763

95,277

New Ireland

161,165

85,417

71,127

Bougainville

234,280

124,168

84,350

TOTAL

7,059,653

3,741,616

3,423,672

 

                               Source: Census 2011; National Newspaper, August 9, 2012.

One can notice that the provinces in which the number of voters substantially outweighs the number of the estimated eligible voters are in order: Western Highlands (more than 120,000), Southern Highlands (more than 100,000), Simbu (more than 70,000), East Sepik (almost 50,000), and Central (more than 12,000). It would be interesting to compare those figures with those of the common roll.

As a Catholic Priest, when I look at those figures, I feel very discouraged because, with the exception of the Central Province, all the others with a substantial multiple voting have a high percentage of Catholics. Do our Catholics not know that cheating is a sinful act? And that to send to Parliament an unworthy person by devious means is doubly sinful? However, in comparison to the 2002 elections, which were also held after a national Census (2000), the improvement in some provinces in the latest elections is noticeable, as shown in Table 2.

Table 2: Selected Provinces’ population, estimated +18 population, and number of voters (2002/2012)

Provinces

Population 2000

Estimated

+18 (53%)

Voters

2002

Population     2011

Estimated                 +18 (53%)

Voters

2012

Enga

295,031

156,366

317,273

452,596

239,835

241,064

West. Highlands

440,025

233,313

386,177

352,934

187,037

310,252

Simbu

259,703

137,643

441,713

403,772

214,014

286,806

East. Highlands

432,972

229,475

435,301

582,159

308,313

283,825

East Sepik

343,181

181,886

160,733

433,481

229,755

279,696

Source: Census 2000, Electoral Commission, Census 2011, National Newspaper, August 9, 2012.

In 2002 the biggest discrepancies between the number of eligible voters and the actual voters were to be found in Simbu (more than 300,000), Eastern Highlands (more than 200,000), Enga and Western Highlands (more than 150,000) while East Sepik seems more correct. In comparison to the 2002 elections the figures of the voters in the latest one look less fraudulent.

Is this improvement enough? Should Catholic priests and other Christian leaders simply keep quiet or shouldn’t they begin as early as possible to make their faithful aware that multiple voting by one person or a group is a form of cheating, and cheating is forbidden by God’s holy commandments? (CBC Communications 250812 – giorgiolicini@yahoo.com)

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