About 57,000 eligible voters have been deleted from the 2008 voter list and should be returned before the July 27 election, according to a Friday statement by election monitoring groups.
As many as 645,000 names were deleted last year during a clean-up of the voter registry that removed invalid names. But that National Election Committee reduced that number to about 586,000 in April after eligible voters who had been deleted came forward, said Jerome Cheung, resident country director for the National Democratic Institute.
According to an audit by NDI and several other groups, the nearly 60,000 voters who should not have been made ineligible are spread throughout the country and remain off the list, Cheung said at a news conference.
However this is unlikely to affect the outcome of next month’s national elections, he said. There are a total of 8.1 million voters registered for the July election.
“If 57,000 were concentrated in one constituency it could certainly affect the outcome of one seat,” but that isn’t the case, Cheung said. Nevertheless, Cheung added, “it’s certainly significant to the voter. That voter can’t vote.”
The voter list audit, which used several methodologies, included surveys of 4,472 eligible voters in 400 communes in all provinces. In one method, researchers randomly picked about 800 names from the deletion list and found they contained 78 eligible voters.
Overall, Cheung noted, administration over the voter list has improved compared to previous years. He added, the audit didn’t collect data that could determine why the names were deleted but human error is a likely reason, though that didn’t rule out manipulation.
“You can’t rule out that in some cases it could have been a partisan supporter, let’s put it that way,” he said.
NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha disputed on Friday the figure of 57,000 de-listed voters, claiming that not a single eligible voter remains on the deletion list.
He also disputed the finding that only 88 percent of eligibe voters are registered, saying that all are.
Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia Executive Director Koul Panha said the audit shows that Cambodia has a ways to go in conducting free and fair elections.
“We have to ensure that people have the right to vote that’s more important than anything,” he said.