Annual Voter Registration to Continue Despite Drawbacks

Speaking at a press conference yesterday in Phnom Penh, Na­tional Election Committee Presi­dent Im Suosdey announced that the government would continue to require voters to register annually despite a report claiming that doing so might suppress voter turnout.

Last month, the Committee for Free and Fair Elections released a report claiming that the yearly registration process places an unnecessary burden on voters and allows commune officials to keep opposition party members from voting. The report, which claimed that thousands were kept from the polls, suggested that the government issue voter registration cards that are good for two years in order to eliminate some of the hassle of the voting process.

“We could not accept the Com­frel proposal to cancel the 1018 form [the annual registration form] because we use it only for the voters who don’t have identification cards and to keep track of the number of the voters,” said Mr Suosdey yesterday.

Mr Suosdey added that 1018 forms would continue to be a necessity because the Interior Ministry does not issue ID cards, which can be used to prove residency, to most people. The form currently requires a photograph, a family history and a testimony to current residency signed by two witnesses.

Comfrel Executive Director Koul Panha said he would continue to track voter rolls and reiterated the importance of monitoring the NEC.

“In 2009, our organization found that roughly 1 million names had been removed from NEC voter rolls,” said Mr Panha, adding that Comfrel has yet to review the 2010 voter list.

NEC officials rejected Comfrel’s 2009 finding, saying far fewer names had been removed.

SRP lawmaker and spokesman Yim Sovann said yesterday that in ignoring the Comfrel report, the NEC has exposed itself as an in­strument of the CPP.

“We think there needs to be a change because the NEC is acting to help the CPP win elections,” he said. “We want voter lists to be monitored by political parties other than the CPP and by outside observers.”

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