The parallel vote counts compiled by the National Election Committee and the Committee for Free and Fair Elections show slightly different results, but so far the discrepancies are not enough to point to widespread fraud, officials said.
Comfrel Executive Director Koul Panha said a detailed analysis has yet to be done, but he confirmed that the differences in NEC and Comfrel figures did not appear to be significant. “It is different only by a little amount,” he said. “When you calculate the seats, it is the same.”
How the NEC and Comfrel numbers compare is seen as an early warning for any results manipulation that might have taken place between the July 27 counting and this week’s release of preliminary results.
Comfrel, along with its sister observer groups Coffel and Nicfec, had observers in all of the 1,570 commune counting centers who watched the counting and noted down the results. So the Comfrel and NEC totals should be the same.
In several provinces, though, the NEC total number of votes is a few thousand higher than those reported by Comfrel. Koul Panha said this could indicate some level of fraud, “but this is a small thing, not a big thing.”
For example, the discrepancy between NEC and Comfrel numbers was highest in Prey Veng, where the official preliminary count reported 35,000 more votes cast than the observer group.
Yet, the extra votes did not seem to benefit any one party. In the NEC numbers, the CPP and Funcinpec each seemed to have about 1,000 more votes than in the Comfrel count.
The Sam Rainsy Party had about 100 more and the other extra votes were divided between smaller parties, boosting their total from about 15,000 to more than 48,000. The results in seats were the same: Seven seats for the CPP and four for Funcinpec.
The smallest discrepancy was in Ratanakkiri province, where the NEC’s total count was just two higher than Comfrel’s tally.