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Inaccurate voting lists give watchdog pause

Inaccurate voting lists give watchdog pause

An election monitoring group yesterday claimed that people were failing to vote because their names were not included on voter lists at polling stations.

Speaking at a Phnom Penh forum held by civil society groups and political parties, Koul Panha, executive director of election monitoring group Comfrel, said that the National Election Committee must ensure that voters’ names were not left off the list for upcoming commune elections in June.

“They arrive at the polling station and cannot find their name, so they return home,” he said.

“The loss of voters’ names is because of technical mistakes or the changing of someone’s name.”

Koul Panha said the Ministry of Interior must issue permanent identification cards and send that information to the NEC, and the NEC must guarantee that someone with an ID card is able to vote.

Local authorities must inform the NEC if a voter moved locations, he added.

SRP lawmaker Kuoy Bunroeun, Human Rights Party official Tim Borak and executive director of election monitor Nicfec, Hang Puthea, supported Koul Panha’s recommendations.

The roundtable also drafted joint recommendations to the NEC stating that the NEC should use the Interior Ministry’s ID databases to compile voter lists and that the voter registration period should be permanent.

A 2011 Comfrel survey compared data collected from respondents who had registered to vote against the voter list and found that 17 per cent of registered voters had no data recorded on the 2011 voter list because their name could not be found or had been changed.

NEC secretary general Tep Nytha said that the voter registration system would be changed following the next national election, but declined to specify a particular year.

“We registered [voters] already, and we have updated [voter lists] yearly,” he said, adding that the NEC would like to eventually use the Interior Ministry’s database to compile the voter list.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said that expired ID cards had been extended until the end of 2013.

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