Following 21 days of “vibrant, peaceful” campaigning by political parties contesting the 2023 general election, Cambodian eligible voters on July 23 go to the 23,789 different polling stations across the country to elect the one that they believe will lead the country to prosperity for the next five-year term.

The election, which pitted 17 contenders against the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), kicked off at 7am and will continue until 3pm, with the electoral process monitored by nearly 90,000 local and international observers, according to the National Election Committee (NEC).

Incumbent Prime Minister Hun Sen, as in the previous elections, cast his ballot in Kandal province’s Takhmao town, just outsides the capital, amid a throng of reporters and supporters. “I’ve cast my vote,” he briefly tweeted on the morning of July 23.

According to the NEC, there are a total of 9,710,655 eligible voters nationwide, or 89.28 per cent of the population of more than 16 million aged 18 and over.

Reth Chenda, a resident of Niroth commune in the capital’s Chhbar Ampov district, arrived at her polling station in the morning along with her husband and 20-year-old son.

“I’ve cast my vote for a party of my own free will,” she said while showing her index finger stained with purple indelible ink.

She noted that there were four election officials stationed at each polling place with different tasks: Verifying national identification card, staining voter’s finger with indelible ink after voting and monitoring the process. There were also independent observers on standby around the polling station, she added.

Van Savorn, another Phnom Penh resident who voted in Prampi Makara district, said the voting process was more convenient than during the 1993 UN-administered election as only national ID card was required this time around.

“Voting was quick and I did not have to wait for too long. NEC officials were welcoming and facilitated the process by helping voters verify their information" he said.

Chivoan Reakmey, who also voted in Phnom Penh, echoed the sentiment. “It’s very convenient now. Voters can easily check their information on the NEC’s website through their smartphones and don’t need to stand in a long queue just to search for voting information as in the past.”

Hun Sen said in June that a new government, should there be no objections to the election results, would be formed by the end of August.

This 2023 poll marks the 7th since the first democratic election administered by the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) in 1993.