About $170,000 remains to be found for a coalition of watchdogs and civil society observers known as the “situation room” to successfully monitor all of Cambodia’s 2017 commune elections for irregularities.
According to Kim Chhorn, a senior program coordinator at the elections watchdog Comfrel, each election observer costs $22. Of this sum, $2.50 goes towards purchasing a T-shirt and manual for the observer, $7.50 funds the observer’s training, $10 covers the observer’s election day expenses including food and travel, and $2 covers the cost of recruiting the observer.
Sam Kuntheamy of the elections monitor NICFEC, said that the European Union approved funding to ensure the presence of 12,000 observers, while private individuals donated nearly $20,000 to the coalition. Currently, Kuntheamy said, these funds, in addition to individuals who have decided to volunteer, places the number of observers at 14,500.
“The total number of polling stations is 22,148,” said Moeun Tola, who belongs to the labour rights NGO Central. “We need one observer in each polling station.”
If the requisite funds are not found in time to recruit one observer per polling station, “we can still deploy our observers,” Tola said, as long as a portion of the observers “covers two polling stations, at least”.
At present, said Tola, the civil society coalition “only recruits people based on available funds”.
There are “more than seven million people registered to vote”, he said. “If they each give 50 cents, it will be more than enough,” said Tola.