11% of Eligible Voters Still Not Registered: Audit

More than 11 percent of the country’s eligible voters remain un­re­gistered, and an increasingly mobile workforce could increase that number, according to an audit of the 2006 national voter list re­leased Thursday.

Polling a randomly selected sample of 3,796 voters from 380 communes, the voter registration audit determined that 88.8 percent of the respondents were registered and 11.2 percent were unregistered.

The audit was jointly conducted by the US-based National Demo­cra­tic Institute, the Neutral and Im­partial Committee for Free Elec­tions, the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, and the Center for Advanced Study.

Men and urban citizens were more likely to be unregistered, as a greater percentage were mobile workers who could miss parts of the voter registration process, Nic­fec Executive Director Puthea Hang said.

Voters under 19 years old were among the least likely to be registered and only 56.6 percent had na­tional ID cards, according to the au­dit. The monitoring groups urged the government to complete the dis­tribution of ID cards by Sept 15 to facilitate the voter registration process.

The audit also found that 10.5 percent of already registered voters may have relocated to other parts of the country since their last registration. That could put them at risk of being deleted from the voter list, which is currently being cleaned up and updated ahead of the next national election in August 2008.

“I urge caution in the clean-up of the list…since it seems a significant proportion of voters permanently or temporarily reside outside their communes and may or may not return to vote,” NDI Resident Country Director Jerome Cheung said in a statement Thursday.

Puthea Hang also said the registration of eligible voters was more important than the process of removing ineligible “ghost names” from the voter lists. He urged the NEC to provide “concrete evidence” before striking a voter’s name from the list.

NEC Secretary-General Tep Ny­tha said that he did not dispute the re­sults of the audit, and asked that all information be passed to the NEC.

Tep Nytha said the NEC was updating the voter list according to “accurate documents and fact,” adding that the NEC had verified that commune councilors were 91 percent accurate in listing voter names for deletion.


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