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Voters wait to cast ballots during general elections in Svay Rieng province
Voters wait to cast ballots during general elections in Svay Rieng province in 2008. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Temporary IDs raise eyebrows among CNRP

More than 60,000 temporary ID replacements have been issued in Svay Rieng province, prompting concerns from the opposition of potential electoral malfeasance in a province that has drawn claims of voter fraud in the past.

According to figures given to the Cambodia National Rescue Party by the Provincial Election Committee, 61,320 “1019” forms have been issued in Svay Rieng, a province with 398,807 registered voters — almost all of whom already have ID cards. The residency form can also be used in place of ID “when individuals … do not have any residency documents,” according to election watchdog Comfrel’s voter list audit.

“The impact is dangerously high,” SRP Senator Seng Mardi said. “This is equivalent to one seat. If the government, if the CPP is using the form for fraudulent purposes, it would impact the results in that province.”

By comparison, continued Mardi, the opposition failed to win a seat in Svay Rieng in the 2008 elections by just 1,400 votes. “That was equivalent to two votes per polling station. Right now, on average, according to this number … [it] is equivalent to 78 ID substitutes per polling station.”

Svay Rieng appears to have major anomalies with regards to its registration. In the voter registry audit carried out earlier this year by NDI, a comparison of NEC registration rates with the population counts carried out by the National Institute of Statistics shows the province has a 125 per cent registration rate. Only Prey Veng has a higher registration-to-population ratio, while most provinces hover around 102 per cent.

Koul Panha, executive director of election monitor Comfrel, said it was premature to claim something was amiss, but said his group had begun an audit of their own.

“We can see that the assumption is something is abnormal, but we don’t know what happened,” he said. “We have to look more.”

Svay Rieng Provincial Governor Cheang Am could not be reached for comment.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHHAY CHANNYDA AND MAY TITTHARA

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