PHNOM PENH —
Thursday marked the first day of voter registration in a three-month drive ahead of elections scheduled for 2017 and 2018.
Observers see the registration process as a positive step towards greater transparency and democratic accountability.
Sam Kuntheamy, head of election monitoring group Nicfec, said the process had gone smoothly on the first day. “We hope more and more people come to register,” he said.
Citizen is lining up in a queue to register to vote for the local elections next year, in Phnom Penh, on Thursday, September 1, 2016. (Hean Socheata/VOA Khmer)
Sik Bun Hok, the head of the National Election Committee (NEC), said: “As we have good cooperation with related partners, I believe we will succeed in the upcoming election with transparency. It starts from having an accurate voter list.”
Hok called on all eligible Cambodians to register, however, he added that if the leaders of the opposition intended to attempt to register the NEC would not be involved in making that decision.
About 9 million Cambodians are eligible to register for the 2017 commune elections.
Im Socheata, a 26-year-old housewife who went out to register to vote on Thursday, said the process appeared “more accurate” and that she thought the government was “trying to make it transparent.”
Head of National Election Committee, Sik Bun Hok register to vote for the local elections which will take place next year, in Phnom Penh, on Thursday, September 1, 2016. (Hean Socheata/VOA Khmer)
“I used to think voting was useless before, but now I figured out that it’s very important. It decides our life and our country’s destination.”
Leung Poly, 67, a city resident, said being able to register online was a welcome change.
The overview of voter registration office, in Phnom Penh, on Thursday, September 1, 2016. (Hean Socheata/VOA Khmer)
“It’s a lot faster than before, and it’s more accurate to document the voter’s data via an online system.”