With the registration period almost over for next year’s commune elections, the opposition CNRP on Friday began lobbying the National Election Committee (NEC) to enfranchise more than 1 million Cambodians working abroad before the 2018 national elections.
“The most important point is that it’s too late for them,” CNRP lawmaker Yim Sovann said of the migrant workers who remain unregistered, speaking after a meeting with the committee’s leaders in Phnom Penh.
“But for the national election in the future, we requested that the NEC consider amending the law and procedures to open the way for more than 1.1 million workers working outside the country to have the ability to register and to vote.”
The election law requires eligible voters to register and vote in their home communes or where they work, meaning that Cambodians outside the country needed to return to their hometowns during the three-month registration window to sign on to new computerized voting rolls. The NEC has blocked repeated requests by the CNRP to set up mobile registration sites along the border or at Cambodian embassies abroad in order to facilitate greater participation in elections.
CNRP lawmakers also requested that the NEC extend the current period of voter registrations three days past its Tuesday deadline in certain communes, including those with less than half of eligible voters registered, according to Mr. Sovann.
NEC spokesman Hang Puthea said the committee would consider the deadline extension request for voter registration depending on its budget, technical capacity and legality. But he said the law would have to be changed in order to enact the CNRP’s other proposals.
“The NEC cannot do so unless the law is amended,” he said.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said the opposition should advocate in parliament rather than to the NEC.
“The NEC doesn’t have the right to amend the law,” he said. “It’s the CNRP that needs to find two-thirds of the members of the National Assembly to propose a law amendment.”