National Assembly First Deputy President Heng Samrin on Thursday called on the National Election Committee to disclose voting lists to all NGOs and independent institutes for verification. But NEC Secretary-General Tep Nitha said this disclosure would be unlawful, and that the time for such investigation has passed.
Heng Samrin signed a letter written by lawmaker Keo Remy, which emphasized the importance of transparency in the election process: “Please allow NGOs and independent institutes to examine the lists,” Keo Remy wrote.
“These audits will ensure the neutrality of the 2003 National Elections.”
Some political parties are suspicious of the voting lists, the letter continued, and if it is not possible to inspect them, parties may think the lists contain “ghost voters”—non-existent citizens whose votes politicians use to boost their support.
But Tep Nitha said on Thursday that the letter asked the impossible: According to the law, only political parties may examine voting lists, he explained. The information on the lists will be of little use to organizations anyway, Tep Nitha said. “How can NGOs find evidence to prove the voting lists are correct or incorrect?”
The NEC allocated 30 days after the registration period for complaints to be registered, and this period is now over, he added.
Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, praised Keo Remy’s suggestion. “There will be suspicions and rumors about the voting lists,” he said. “But if the NEC allows NGOs to audit the voting lists, people will trusts the lists.”
Comfrel will ask the NEC for a copy of the voter list, and will conduct its own investigation into the data, Koul Panha said. Comfrel will select some communes from the list and go to the commune office to check whether names on the list correspond to real people.
“We just want to know what percentage of the lists are right and wrong, because many donor countries want to know how accurate the voting lists are,” he said.