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NEC to begin registering voters it missed for 2017

National Election Committee Chairman Sik Bun Hok speaks about an upcoming voter registration drive at a meeting yesterday in Phnom Penh.
National Election Committee Chairman Sik Bun Hok speaks about an upcoming voter registration drive at a meeting yesterday in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

NEC to begin registering voters it missed for 2017

The National Election Committee said it will aim to register around 1.4 million of the nearly 2 million eligible voters it was unable to get on voter rolls last year, though the body’s chairman, Sik Bun Hok, refused to address yesterday whether the process would be facilitated for migrant workers.

The electoral body will start adding new names – mostly migrant workers and others who missed out on the process last year – to the voter rolls from September 10 to November 9.

“If an individual does not have their name in the 2017 voter registry, the individual cannot vote in the 2018 national election,” Bun Hok said.

Earlier this month, the NEC chair deflected blame on the lack of options for migrant workers – who comprise around 1.5 million people and are spread largely across Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea – saying allowing for overseas registration required legislative changes. Yesterday, Bun Hok refused to comment on the issue at a press conference.

Of the 9.6 million eligible voters last year, 7.8 million were registered. The NEC estimates 1.4 million are eligible to register for the 2018 elections, with the rest either lacking ID cards, having moved to a new commune or having passed away.

The Cambodia National Rescue Party’s Son Chhay last week submitted legislation that he said could be added to the existing Law on the Election of Members of the National Assembly that would allow the setting up of registration or voting stations along the border with Thailand, and in embassies and consulates overseas.

National Assembly spokesman Leng Peng Long only said that the legislation had been forwarded to the Permanent Committee, who had yet to take a decision on its fate.

Moeun Tola, head of labour rights group Central, said the NEC and government had a constitutional obligation to ensure people were registered even if they lived overseas.

“Though we are not capable of achieving 100 percent [registration abroad], we still can choose some countries, such as Thailand, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia, to do it,” he said.

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