Parties Rail on Use of Private Homes for Poll

Party representatives have railed against the use of private homes as voting stations on election day, saying it threatens the secrecy of the vote.

Pou Sovachana, spokesman for the Reastr Niyum party and a National Assembly candidate in Siem Reap province, said he was notified this week by the provincial election commission that private homes would be used widely in Siem Reap.

“I think it’s not just to do,” he said, alleging that fraud will be easier. “If you vote in somebody else’s house, it cannot be a secret vote.”

A spokesman for the National Election Committee said Thurs­day the use of homes as polling stations is necessary because of the lack of public buildings.

“Some areas we cannot find a public building so we rent [a private one] for one month,” Leng Sochea said. “Of course, in most cases, we prefer to use public buildings like schools.” He said he had no idea how many homes would be used nation­wide.

Kem Sokha, secretary-general for the Son Sann Party, said Thursday that the opposition National United Front—made up of Funcinpec, the Sam Rainsy, Son Sann and Khmer Neutral parties—have been trying to meet since Wednesday to discuss the issue.

He said the opposition’s fear is that CPP-aligned officials on the communal election commissions will place the ballot boxes in the homes of CPP-appointed village and commune chiefs.

“I think this is not fair because the communal election commissions are not neutral,” Kem Sokha said. “We need neutral places like pagodas and schools.”

Pou Sovachana said he had been told earlier that the stations would be neutral locations. “I’m very disappointed with the PEC,” he said. “They say one thing and do another.”

(Additional reporting by Kay Johnson)

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