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NEC chief calls for registration tech help

Voters check registration lists at a school in Prey Veng during the 2013 elections.
Voters check registration lists at a school in Prey Veng during the 2013 elections. Vireak Mai

NEC chief calls for registration tech help

The president of the National Election Committee yesterday appealed for tech-savvy students and civil servants to help the body organise new digital voter lists after a trial of the system last year threw up an array of technical challenges.

NEC head Sik Bun Hok made the call-to-arms during a seminar in Phnom Penh to organise regulations and procedures for voter registration ahead of the local and national elections in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

Among the event’s 185 attendees were NEC officials, representatives of the UN, NGOs, diplomats and election experts from Japan and the European Union, who praised the NEC’s progress but underscored the need for transparent and accessible voter lists to consolidate confidence in the system.

Addressing the crowd, Bun Hok said the NEC “desperately” needed computer-literate students and civil servants to help register voters, adding an announcement would be made soon on the recruitment drive, which would prioritise women and disabled applicants.

“Working in voter registration is an opportunity to contribute to serving the country and promoting democracy,” he said.

A two-week trial of the digital registration system in November encountered several technical problems, including the poor battery life of equipment, patchy internet and fingerprint scans and head shots that were unclear, which meant each person took about 10 minutes to process.

Many voters also did not have sufficient ID to register.

EU and Japanese experts are aiding the NEC’s work. The Japanese team has submitted 100 points of feedback, though specifics were not discussed.

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