NEC Responds to Confusion Over Voter Registration Procedures

In the wake of strong criticism from the SRP and confusion among some commune officials, the Na­tion­al Election Committee has is­sued a flurry of statements in recent days regarding procedures for voter registration before the 2007 commune elections.

In press releases issued on Sept 14 and Sept 16, the NEC said it has taken recommendations to improve the voting process from local and international NGOs, voting monitors, Funcinpec, the CPP and the SRP.

The NEC also announced that all parties will be able to disseminate their political platforms in brief spots on state television.

The NEC media blitz is designed to end “rumors and disinformation,” said an official familiar with the campaign.

But the NEC’s much-criticized voter information notices—which have been issued to verify the personal information of registered voters—have continued to cause problems.

The SRP has claimed the notices add a bureaucratic hurdle to the registration process and are likely to confuse voters. The party also claims that failure to correct voter list information errors within the Oct 1 to Oct 20 registration period may mean voters are turned away at the polls.

About 75 percent of voters have received their notices to date, said Koul Panha, director of the Com­mittee for Free and Fair Elections.

Ngeth Virak, commune clerk for Satpoang commune in Kampot province’s Chhuk district, said that names, dates of birth or places of birth on nearly 85 percent of the notices issued to villagers in his commune did not match the information on their identity cards.

He added that he has received an additional 500 notices for voters that he could not find.

“I have no idea who voted with those 500 votes in 2003 because those 500 names are not residents or former residents of my commune,” he said.

Chhim Savouth, monitoring officer with the Cambodian Center for Human Rights for Kampot, Siha­nouk­ville and Takeo province, claimed many commune have re­ceived either too few voter cards or ex­tra voter cards for people who cannot be found. The irregularities are suspicious, he said.

Im Suosdey, chairman of the NEC, said in a recent interview with Development Weekly magazine, that despite the difficulty in distribution, the notices have achieved the NEC’s main objective.

“The bottom line is that this distribution has considerably raised awareness of all Cambodians around the coming voter registration,” he said in the interview.



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