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NEC warns groups on releasing polling data

People search for their names on the NEC’s new voter lists in Phnom Penh’s Tonle Bassac commune in January this year.
People search for their names on the NEC’s new voter lists in Phnom Penh’s Tonle Bassac commune in January this year. Pha Lina

NEC warns groups on releasing polling data

National Election Committee spokesman Hang Puthea on Friday asked third-party institutions to refrain from releasing opinion polls and voter surveys within seven days of the commune elections, while also informally requesting pollsters avoid releasing results during the official two-week campaign before the election.

At a meeting on Friday, Puthea reminded institutions to not publish any polling a week before the June 4 commune elections, saying it would result in lawsuits.

The seven-day restriction is in accordance with commune and National Assembly election laws. He additionally asked for a moratorium on polling during the May 20 to June 2 campaign period in order to ensure a “calm and peaceful election”.

Sor Sorida, deputy secretary-general of the NEC, clarified that there would only be legal ramifications for publishing such polling during the week before election day.

“We will not file a complaint against them or file a suit against them [before the seven-day period] as long as their survey is neutral [and] does not serve any one party,” he said yesterday.

Ou Virak, founder of local think tank Future Forum, criticised the restrictions on polling, saying the surveys are valuable for voters.

“Even if a restriction might be reasonable, it tends to be a slippery slope where it would normally lead to more unnecessary restrictions and abuses in a way that would favour the ruling party,” he said.

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