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NDI defends audit of Cambodia’s voter rolls

NDI defends audit of Cambodia’s voter rolls

The National Democratic Institute is standing by its highly critical report outlining flaws in voter registration data after the government’s main electoral body questioned the veracity of the results and demanded names of people interviewed.

In a statement released Friday, after local news stories ran coverage of the scathing audit and the National Election Committee attempted to throw into doubt the study’s credibility by criticising its methodology, the institute issued a lengthy rebuttal.

“From their press release, it seems they didn’t fully understand the data or the research process,” NDI’s senior director in Cambodia, Laura Thornton, said yesterday.

In a central allegation, the election committee claims that NDI figures contradict themselves. One figure puts the voter registration rate at around 83 percent, which would mean a decline from 2008.

In another section of the audit, the election committee says, the figure stands at a total of 90 percent.

But the NDI statement argues that “those two numbers cannot be logically combined or compared,” because the first set of interviews asked eligible voters if they had registered, while the second sought to match names on the list with actual people.

The institute also denied another claim that its field team had only conducted interviews by phone, and cited a confidentiality agreement in refusing to release interviewees’ names.

The 2013 Cambodia Voter Registry audit, which the NDI, Cambodia’s Center for Advanced Studies, and the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia put together in February, called for a number of changes ahead of July’s elections.

In light of a dip in registration, names deleted without cause and voters whose existence couldn’t be verified, among other concerns, the audit urged the National Election Committee to make the registration list available in analysable format and to accept international monitors at polling stations.

Tep Nytha, secretary general of the National Election Committee, told the Post yesterday that there is little likelihood of implementing the recommendations.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joe Freeman at [email protected]
With assistance from Meas Sokchea

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