Groups Like Philippines Polling Ideas

Two Cambodian elections watchdog groups returned from observing Monday’s polling in the Philippines with new ideas for “parallel counting” of ballots in July’s elections.

Representatives of the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections and the Committee for Free and Fair Elections said Thursday a parallel count could cut down on fraud.

A group of 40 Cambodian ob­servers were in the Philippines for Monday’s vote, which is not expected to yield official results for about two weeks.

Under the system used in the Philippines, elections observers are present when ballot boxes are opened and they take note of the ballots as they are read, said Sok Sam Oeun, a director of Comfrel.

The observers pool their re­sults to do their own ballot count, called “Quick Count” in the Phi­l­ip­pines.

“Then, they can compare the Quick Count with the official counting and see if they mesh,” Sok Sam Oeun said. “It can prevent cheating during the count.”

“We will try to lobby for this kind of system with the National Election Committee,” he said.

However, Coffel executive director Lay Sovathara said the two watchdog groups will have to see if they have enough staff and resources to undertake such a huge task just 10 weeks before the July 26 election date.

Im Suorsdei, the NEC general secretary, told Agence France-Presse on Thursday the groups are welcome to view the ballot counting, but “we will not allow them to touch the ballot papers. This can only be done by the polling commission members.”

Lay Sovathara said the Cam­bodian observers, who spent a week in the Philippines, were impressed by the voters’ knowledge of the democratic process and their voting rights.

“We see that we need to train and explain to people here how to exercise their rights and choose a good candidate,” he said.

“Be­cause our organizations are young organizations, we do not have much expertise in elections. So this [Philippines] experience is good preparation for us.”

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