The National Election Committee (NEC) on Wednesday destroyed over 22 million ballots papers used in elections from 2012 to 2017 after they were legally retained for between three and six years.
NEC secretary-general Tep Nytha said this was the fourth time the NEC destroyed used ballot papers since 1998. The first batch was destroyed in 2005 and included those from the national election in 1998 and the commune council election in 2002.
The second ballot destruction took place in 2009 and involved ballots used in the 2003 national election and 2007 commune council election.
The third destruction was carried out in 2014 for the ballots used in the 2008 national election and the 2012 commune council election.
Nytha said the destruction of old ballot papers is carried out as per the laws governing the NEC, and the procedures set by it.
He said according to law, the ballot papers used in national elections can be destroyed after six years of storage, while ballot papers for commune council elections can be destroyed after three years.
“The destruction of used ballot papers is done according to law and NEC’s procedure. It contributes to saving money for maintenance as NEC needs to preserve the ballot papers used in 2018 and 2019 Nytha said.
NEC deputy president Nuth Sokhom said at the destruction ceremony that NEC is trying to review over eight million voters’ names and register new voters who just turned 18.
“We try to make the elections transparent, free, fair and acceptable. This is what we and all other stakeholders are doing,” he said.
The Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (Comfrel), an NGO monitoring elections in the Kingdom, recently issued a press release calling for the NEC to help Cambodian migrant workers abroad register to vote.
But Sokhom said the NEC could not do this because there is no article or law concerning the matter. He said as an executive institution, the NEC only does what the law permits.
Sokhom thanked the Japan International Cooperation Agency for supporting Cambodia’s elections and appealed to other donors to contribute to improving the voting system in the country.
NEC officials said the next election is two years away and they are in the process of improving internal work.
They said they should be busy registering new voters, but this activity has been postponed until October due to Covid-19.