NEC: Ballots Printed, Transferred to Storage

The National Election Commit­tee has finished printing the 10,454,400 ballots needed for the July 27 election, transferring the final batch of more than 2 million slips to a Phnom Penh storage facility Thursday, officials said.

The NEC brought these last 2,547,350 ballots to a storehouse in Russei Keo district along with 32,352 bottles of permanent ink, NEC cooperation department director Hoeu Rong said.

Voters will have to dip a finger in the ink after voting, giving poll station workers an easy way to detect unscrupulous individuals trying to cast a second ballot.

NEC Secretary-General Tep Ny­tha said ballots will be shipped to their respective provinces 10 days before the election and will be distributed to commune election committees five days before the July 27 poll.

Hoeu Rong said political parties, election observers, NGOs and the press were invited to observe the ballot transfer, but none had showed up.

“Maybe they are busy with the campaign,” he said.

However, at least some parties and a prominent election monitoring organization said Thursday they had received no notification of the NEC’s ballot transfer.

Norodom Ranariddh Party spokes­man Muth Channtha said that NEC had not sent word of the transfer to his party.

“It is likely that they are hiding something,” he said.

Khmer Republican Party spokes­man Chuon Narong said his party had also heard nothing of the transfer and expressed concerns that election tampering could happen—particularly because the NEC printed 2.3 million more ballots than there are voters.

Puthea Hang, executive director of election monitoring group Nic­fec, said his group was not informed either. He said he did not believe any foul play was afoot but that the lack of ob­servers would only lead to mistrust and criticism of the NEC.

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