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NEC’s verification is questioned by NGO

The Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) yesterday raised concerns over the ongoing election results verification process, saying the manner in which it was carried out makes it almost meaningless as a tool to check returns.

From Saturday to Tuesday, the National Election Committee carried out its verification process, cross-checking totals against figures provided by local election committees.

But the CCHR and other monitors called the process virtually meaningless, noting that original recordings from polling stations were not counted. Instead, the body checked commune figures against the total.

“NEC failed to provide the original results forms from each polling station and instead re-counted secondary figures that were collected in a printed Excel sheet,” reads the statement from CCHR.

“This procedure itself was transparent but, because none of the actual 1102 forms, on which results would have been recorded directly after each polling station was closed, were made available to check against the figures in the completed Excel spreadsheets, it was not possible to verify the legitimacy of figures provided by the NEC,” it continues.

Shiro Harada, a University of Tokyo professor who has been studying the election in Cambodia, said yesterday that after three days spent monitoring the verification process he came to a similar conclusion.

“What I could do at that site was just watch that they were confirming aloud the correctness of the addition.” he said, noting that without sub-divided data it was nearly impossible for parties or monitors to cross-check the NEC figures against their own.

NEC secretary-general Tep Nytha defended the process, insisting safeguards were built in at every level.

“We add ballots from polling stations until we have CEC [commune election committee] figures and then post them in the commune [opening them up to be checked by political parties]....

“When it reaches the PEC [provincial election committee], it is totalled and the results are sent to NEC. NGOs don’t understand ... if the PEC didn’t count it properly, the NEC would re-count it.”

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