The national election authority is planning a nationwide campaign focused on teaching voters in rural communities how to properly fill in their ballots after tallying a high number of spoiled ballots during the June 4 commune elections.
Government-aligned Fresh News reported on Monday that the National Election Committee (NEC) was planning to investigate the reasons why more than 100,000 invalid ballots were cast.
NEC spokesman Hang Puthea, however, told of different plans. He said 133,484 of the 7,107,395 ballots cast on June 4—about 1.88 percent—were indeed spoiled, but education, not investigation, was its goal. He said the NEC planned to work with commune and village officials to educate voters how to correctly mark their ballots next time.
A national election is scheduled for July next year.
“We will cooperate with local authorities to make sure people can vote correctly,” he said. “We saw more invalid ballots, mostly from people with less education. They are not sure how to vote with a valid ballot, especially in rural areas.”
Mr. Puthea said this year’s poll saw more invalid ballots cast than past elections but he did not know by how much. This year’s elections also saw more votes cast than any other, however, and the spokesman did not say whether this year’s invalid ballots were unusually high as a percent of the total ballots cast.
The CPP won a commanding majority of the country’s 1,646 communes but lost several hundred to the CNRP.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said he was unperturbed by the invalid ballots, noting that his party made it a point to teach its supports how to fill in the ballots correctly before each election.
Neither CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann nor Meng Sopheary, the party’s head of electoral and legislative affairs, could be reached for comment.
On Sunday, however, Mr. Sovann said most of the ballots the NEC declared invalid this year should have gone to the CNRP and accused the election authority of bias, an accusation the NEC has denied.
During the recounting of votes in some contested communes after June 4, common ballot mistakes included the wrong mark inside the boxes, marks that passed through two or more boxes and marks outside of the boxes altogether.
Mr. Puthea did not say when the ballot campaign would begin.
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