The National Election Committee on Friday began transferring boxed packages of ballot papers from a Phnom Penh printing house to the NEC warehouse in Russei Keo district, where they will be held ahead of distribution to the provinces.
Political party representatives and journalists were permitted to observe the transfer of the ballots for April’s commune elections.
But voting monitors and some parties continued to criticize the NEC for barring observers from monitoring the printing of ballots.
“The important thing is that they allow observers to monitor the printing and packaging process, not the transporting process,” said Mar Sophal, a monitoring officer with the Committee for Free and Fair Elections.
Voting monitors and political parties have previously asked to observe the ballot-printing process at Tuol Kok district’s Ly Van Hong printing house, but the NEC has repeatedly denied the requests, citing security concerns.
“We cannot trust everyone,” Keo Phalla, the NEC’s legal services director, said Sunday. The NEC is particularly concerned that observers might go on to create counterfeit ballots after witnessing the process, he said. “The NEC is working according to legal procedure,” he added.
Norodom Ranariddh Party spokesman Muth Channtha accused the NEC of being unnecessarily secretive about the ballot printing process.
Prince Sisowath Thomico said that without checking serial numbers on ballots before they are packed, parties will have no way of establishing whether ballots subsequently go missing. “Before they are packed, we should be able to check the numbers,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Chhay Channyda.)