The SRP alleged Tuesday that authorities deleted over 500,000 names from the national voter registry last month, and that a majority of the names were removed because of political discrimination.
The SRP claimed in a statement that commune officials deleted 551,738 names from the voter list between July 12 and 26, most of which belonged to opponents of the ruling CPP.
“Some of these [names], of course, represent people who have died or left the commune,” the statement said. “But based on reports from our representatives, we believe that over two-thirds of those names were deleted because the people are known or suspected opponents of the ruling party.”
Commune councilors, clerks and village chiefs began examining local voter lists July 2 to determine which registered voters have died, changed residence or appear on the list more than once. The list-cleaning process will continue until Oct 20.
Tep Nytha, secretary-general of the National Election Committee, said Wednesday that the NEC had yet to remove any names from the list, adding that local officials had only collected ghost names for consideration.
“We won’t just delete their names immediately,” he said, adding that all commune offices would post the revised voter lists from Aug 2 to Oct 20 for residents to verify.
Tep Nytha said that the figure of 551,738 ghost names—which represents only the names collected by officials between July 12 and 26 and is not the total number of potential ghost voters—was reliable and not politically biased.
“I wonder how [officials] can be biased against the dead and those who already moved out,” he added.
Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith called upon the SRP to provide concrete evidence of their allegations.
Mar Sophal, monitoring coordinator for the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said that Comfrel had not found evidence of the political discrimination described by the SRP.
But a July 20 Comfrel statement claimed irregularities were threatening to impact people’s right to vote in Battambang, Pailin, Kampot and Kompong Chhnang provinces, drawing on reports from its monitors in 165 communes throughout the country.
Comfrel Director Koul Panha said in an interview at the time that officials in 10 percent of the communes monitored had misunderstood directions about the list cleaning process.
Local officials were listing people’s names for deletion without going to their houses to verify whether they were still living there, Comfrel’s statement alleged, and added that commune chiefs were conducting political activities when they were supposed to be updating the list.
Tep Nytha said the NEC would form a committee to investigate feedback about the voter list.