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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Annual voter registration struggles to get numbers

Annual voter registration struggles to get numbers

The National Election Committee (NEC) has extended the voter registration period

for the 2007 commune and 2008 National Assembly elections by four days to October

22.

Tep Nytha, NEC secretary general, said this was because the rainy season and Pchum

Ben ceremonies were discouraging registration and numbers were down on estimates.

A progress report on October 4 showed that only 21,591 people had registered, out

of the 647,618 who failed to register in 2003. The figure includes 239,576 new voters.

For the first time, registration is being conducted every year between October 1

and 18 to avoid the problems caused by late registration in the past. Voters can

register at any commune in the country

"We had prepared everything for the registration, but the people are not so

interested because it is not an election year," said Nytha. For the 2003 election

6,341,834 out of 6,989,452 eligible voters were registered.

Nytha said the NEC had promoted registration nationwide through state and private

TV, radio, leaflets, posters and local authorities.

Koul Panha, executive director of Comfrel, an election monitoring NGO, said the promotion

will not be effective because the NEC did not have proper strategies. "They

should set up mobile groups to cooperate with commune councils and village chiefs.

"The promotion budget is too small and the time extension is still not enough.

It should be a month or more."

Hay Namheng, Poipet commune chief at O'Chrov district of Banteay Meanchey, said only

45,056 out of 77,540 people in the commune had been registered in 2003 election.

He said the problem was that people worked in Thailand, were preparing for Pchum

Ben, and the rainy season made it difficult for traveling.

He said the Commune Election Committee was working very hard to encourage people

to register.

Sam Rainsy, president of the opposition party, said at a press conference on September

30 that voter registration should be delayed until after the rice harvest.

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