Pilot for New Voter Registration System Identifies Key Problems

Halfway into a pilot project testing a computerized voter registration system, the National Election Committee (NEC) has identified a lack of electricity and Internet access in the countryside along with inaccurate voter documentation as its main challenges.

The new system is at the center of plans to rebuild Cambodia’s voter roll from scratch starting next year. The computerized registration technology utilizes biometric fingerprint and photo testing and is intended to neutralize opposition complaints that there were hundreds of thousands of double and missing names on the lists used in the 2013 election.

The pilot project began on November 1 and as of yesterday had successfully registered over 12,000 of the 32,528 voting-age adults identified in its various testing areas across the country, NEC spokesman Hang Puthea said.

“One good thing is that voters who already registered with the computerized voter registration system cannot register again, since their data appeared in the network,” he said. “So, doing computerized registration has barred cheating…in many places.”

“However, we faced three challenges,” he said. “Firstly, according to the election law, voters are required to use national identification cards for registration and voting, but most hold ID cards with an address in a different area [to where they live].”

“The second challenge is some areas do not have access to electricity so we could not do our job properly, so we have to use generators,” Mr. Puthea said, adding that Internet access was also patchy.

“Due to the electricity issue, we will need to purchase up to 80 generators for about 80 communes out of the 1,633 registration centers for official voter registration next year to fix the problem, so we need a lot of money to produce transparent voter lists,” he said.

“Other voter registration centers have weak Internet access, and we will fix the problem by working with the Internet providers to provide high-speed capacity for us for the official voter registration.”

naren@cambodiadaily.com

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