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Monitors Concerned As Registration Closes


With voter registration closed in most of the country, independent monitors said they were still concerned over low numbers and other issues facing the nation ahead of parliamentary elections next year.

The National Election Committee said Saturday about 740,000 new voters registered, more than they expected.

But Koul Panha, director of the independent Committee for Free and Fair Elections, or Comfrel, said Thursday the national election body had not done enough to help voters in some rural areas. He appealed to people to vote, calling it a "vital task" for citizens.

In some rural areas, documentation was difficult, making registration hard, he said, adding that legal residency, not land ownership, was a determining factor for registration, which had been a confusing issue.

Newly eligible voters who did not register will not be able to take part in elections next year, but those who have registered still have a responsibility to ensure they were on voting lists and properly documented, said Mar Sophal, head of the election monitoring unit of the independent Committee for Free and Fair Elections, as a guest on "Hello VOA" Monday.

Voters will have a chance to amend registration lists in their home areas between Oct. 27 and Nov. 30, he said.

Name misspellings and other inaccuracies should be fixed during that period, he said, adding that those concerned about their safety in launching a complaint should inform their local political party of choice and allow party members to appeal on their behalf.

Mar Sophal discounted the NEC's claims that 740,000 new voters was a success.

Meanwhile, two areas in the northwest were still taking registration, following heavy rains that might have prevented people from traveling last week. New voters in Poipet town on the Thai border and one commune in Battambang province will have until Oct. 24 to register.

Seng Theary, executive director of the Center for Social Development, said Monday her organization had found a number of irregularities in the registration process, from irregular office hours, which might have discouraged new voters, to complex and burdensome procedures and the inadequate dissemination of registration information.

Still, in general the NEC has been helpful in the registration process, Mar Sophal said.

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