Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - NEC concerned over new IDs

NEC concerned over new IDs

An election official checks a voter’s identification card in Phnom Penh
An election official checks a voter’s identification card in Phnom Penh during the last national election. Hong Menea

NEC concerned over new IDs

The National Election Committee has expressed concern over whether the Interior Ministry will be able to issue enough new biometric identity cards – which ensure voter names aren’t duplicated – in time for it to register voters ahead of the 2017 commune elections.

The issue, among those discussed at a meeting between the two bodies on Wednesday, could complicate the NEC’s planned efforts to digitise and clean-up voter lists next year, according to NEC spokesman Hang Puthea.

Although voters are technically able to use old identity cards to register, as they don’t include a biometric chip containing the holder’s personal data, there’s more chance of duplications arising, which would undermine the NEC’s goal, specified in the new election law, of ensuring voter lists are accurate.

“The old ID card does not have enough information because all information is in the chip,” Puthea said.

“We cannot use it for controlled voter registration.”

Interior Ministry’s Mao Chandara, director general of the General Department of Identification Cards, said currently about 13 million identity cards were in circulation, of which 4.6 million were biometric.

Conceding time and resources were a challenge, he said his department would try to issue another 6 million new cards as soon as possible

“The new identification cards guarantee an international standard; the old does not guarantee an international standard,” he added.

Bloated voter lists formed a major gripe of the opposition following the contested July 2013 election. A Post investigation prior to the ballot found that nearly all of Phnom Penh’s communes had voter-registration rates in excess of 100 per cent, and there were more than 25,000 duplicate names in the capital alone.

Puthea said the NEC and Interior Ministry would work closely to ensure those registering with old identity cards – as well as those unable to get a card in time, who are required to get a temporary identity document from commune authorities – were vetted before being logged in the new digital system. He again called for international donors to support the NEC in establishing the new lists.

Responding yesterday, both the European Union and Japan, who have offered to help with the voter roll clean-up, affirmed their commitment to electoral reform. EU Ambassador Jean-François Cautain said the aid package to the NEC would likely be announced in October. Takayoshi Kuromiya, counsellor of the Embassy of Japan said an election expert to advise the NEC would be dispatched to Cambodia in the summer.

Meanwhile, Puthea said the NEC was preparing to reshuffle members of the body’s secretariat in the next three months but declined to specify when, or by whom, current Secretary General Tep Nytha would be replaced. In a seeming swipe at the workings of the previous NEC, considered biased towards the ruling party, Puthea said Nytha’s replacement would be subservient to the body’s leadership and not able to make decisions independently.

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince injured, wife dies after accident

    THE wife of former First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh, Ouk Phalla, 39, died while the prince was “severely” injured following a road accident in Preah Sihanouk province’s Prey Nub district on Sunday morning, officials said. Rananriddh, who is also the president of the Funcinpec

  • Guards protest dismissals, reject claims of sharing naked photos of child

    Some 20 former security guards at the US Embassy in Phnom Penh protested on Tuesday against their dismissal. They accused their employers of falsely claiming they had viewed and shared child pornography from their mobile phones as grounds for their termination. In total, 32 personnel were dismissed

  • We’re going to Wisney World!

    More than 6,000 mostly Chinese attendees witnessed the inauguration ceremony of a $1 billion Sihanoukville resort project called Wisney World in the capital on Wednesday. The event on Koh Pich, attended by several senior Cambodian government officials, is a joint venture between China’s AMC International and

  • Funcinpec urges probe into deadly Preah Sihanouk accident

    THE Funcinpec party has urged the government, especially the Ministry of Interior, to investigate the traffic accident in Preah Sihanouk province which left Prince Norodom Ranariddh badly injured and his wife Ouk Phalla dead. Funcinpec Vice President You Hokry told reporters at Botum Votey pagoda,