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Cleansing of Voter Lists Remains a Worry, Election Observer Warns

The National Election Committee's insistence on cleaning up voter registration lists should remain a concern to parties seeking free and fair elections, an observer warned Monday.

The removal of names from the lists is necessary for eliminating ineligible voters from the polls, the NEC has said. At the same time, this puts an unnecessary burden on voters whose names are removed but who remain eligible. The opposition maintains the lists are being cleansed of supporter names.

Observer Mar Sophal, of the independent Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said voters should be sure to double check registration lists in their regions between Sept. 15 and Oct. 20. The NEC has said it will post names at commune council offices for each constituency and will open registration for those who have recently come of voting age.

But Mar Sophal said voter registration was only a fraction of what it had been prior to the last election, indicating a flaw in the process. In a commune in Kampong Chhnang, only one first-time voter had registered, compared to 300 people in the same commune in the last election.

Comfrel found names on registration lists marked ineligible due to death or movement of people, but easily found those people, alive, in the areas where they had registered, he said.