CNRP Pushes for Rights of Migrants to Vote in 2018

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.”

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