Confused Voters Struggle To Find Their Names at Polls

banteay meanchey/battambang provinces – It was 7:50 am and Khom Sarat was growing more distressed by the minute.

“My time is almost up and I still can’t find my name,” said the 24-year-old maid at Poipet commune’s Crown Casino.

“I have to be at work at 8 am,” she said.

Around Khom Sarat a confused crowd of would-be voters jostled each other to scan the voter list outside polling station 721 in O’Chrou district, unable to find their names despite the number indicated on their registration slips.

Many of their names had actually been transferred to one of the other 10 polling stations on the grassy field, said Kong Rithy, 29, an SRP activist who was helping the anxious voters find their names.

But for casino workers like Khom Sarat, the time left to vote was fast running out.

“We are working at private companies, so it’s not easy to take time to vote,” she said, maneuvering between the other uniformed workers from Holiday, Tropicana and Star Vegas casinos.

The town on the Thai border gain­ed a majority of SRP commune seats in the last election in 2002, got support from many workers em­ployed by Poipet’s busy casinos.

Tan Sivty, 33, a pit manager at Holiday, denied that casino workers were restricted in any way from going to vote. “We are free to go and vote,” Tan Sivty said, though even she was jostling to get out of the way of the growing crowd around the voter list.

As of Sunday at 5 pm, a large number of polling stations in Poipet had less than 50 percent turnout, said Khat Thea, SRP candidate for the commune.

Elsewhere in Banteay Mean­chey and Battambang provinces, the scene at the polling stations was de­cidedly more tranquil, though there were other instances of confusion.

In Banteay Meanchey’s Srey Sophorn district, some voters had also arrived at poll stations to find they had to vote elsewhere. Keo Pich Kandeang, 26, a Comfrel monitor at Preah Ponkea commune’s Wat Svay, said some voters had trouble establishing ex­act­ly where they were supposed to be.

“They spent a lot of time going around in order to find the right polling stations,” she said. “Some of the voters were angry at first that they couldn’t find their own name.”

In Battambang district’s Ratanak Lor commune, 79 voters who had originally registered to vote at Wat Pol Veal had been transferred to another nearby poll station, according to lists posted at the pagoda.

“Voters were confused—three people just left without voting because they were fed up,” said Hou Chan­rath, a monitor with the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia stationed at Wat Pol Veal.

“Otherwise, the situation be­tween the voters and the authorities was calm.”



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