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Voter registration numbers expected to triple this year

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A woman searches for her name on the voter list at a school in the capital’s Sen Sok district in 2018. Heng Chivoan

Voter registration numbers expected to triple this year

The National Election Committee (NEC) expected 1.6 million newly registered voters in 2021, compared to just over 500,000 new registrations last year, according to its spokesman Som Sorida.

Sorida, who is also NEC deputy secretary-general, told The Post on September 12 that they had almost triple the number of voter registrations this year than in 2020.

This year the NEC had to prepare a new voter list for the Commune Council Elections of the fifth mandate in 2022.

Sorida said every time the voter list is prepared for an election year, the number of people who register is always higher than in the years that don’t have any elections.

He said another reason is that Article 44 of the election law states that the voter list for the election must register every eligible voter who is 18 years of age or older.

“We take the figure of over 10 million people who are eligible to vote and subtract 8.8 million, the number of people registered in 2020, and we have 1.6 million people who have to register to vote this year,” he said.

However, he said the success of the 2021 voter registration depends on the participation of citizens who understand their obligations and rights in regards to voting as Cambodian citizens.

The NEC has pledged to work with authorities at all levels to encourage people to register to vote successfully and to increase registration numbers from last year, which had no election.

NEC chairman Prach Chan said in a meeting with stakeholders via video conference on September 10 that the review of the 2021 voter list and registrations would precede the creation of an official voter list for the upcoming fifth mandate commune elections.

He added that the NEC must provide an official voter list to be published at least 90 days before the elections, which the government has scheduled for Sunday, June 5, 2022.

He said in order to successfully prepare and implement the work in stages, the NEC had prepared a master plan and calendar for the 2021 voter list review and registration. The examination of the voter list and registration runs from October 12 to November 30.

“According to the census, the number of eligible voters in communes across the country is estimated at 10,867,961. There are 23,611 polling stations, 1,635,990 newly registered voters and 83,043 people who have been removed from the voter list,” he said.

Sam Kuntheamy, executive director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (NICFEC), said there were two types of new registrants for 2021: large number of migrants who were working abroad such as in Thailand and South Korea who have returned to Cambodia and have never registered before and about 200,000 people who turned 18 years old.

He said the largest group was workers from Thailand that had never registered, bringing the number to more than 1.6 million. However, he said Covid-19 could affect the process of preparing new voter registrations across the country.

He called on stakeholders, political parties and especially local authorities to widely disseminate and encourage people’s awareness of the new voter registration process so they get registered for the 2022 commune elections.

“We help with encouragement, dissemination and promotion of this work. Authorities must help them, for example, if they are lacking documents, like if their national ID card has expired. So they must expedite that process. With voter registrations, old ID cards are not acceptable, so they must issue them new cards in order to be able to register on time,” he said.

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