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Election Ballot Count a Concern: Monitors

A revised method of ballot-counting that includes the participation of commune-level election offices could lead to miscounts and disputes, the Committee for Free and Fair Elections said Wednesday.

An adjustment to the election law calls for ballot counts from individual polling stations to be tallied by commune election committees, or CEC, which will then pass the count to the provincial election committees, the PEC.

Comfrel officials told reporters Wednesday this method could mean problems and urged the National Election Committee to return to the previous method, where individual polling stations passed their results directly to provincial offices, skipping the commune offices.

"Comfrel is deeply concerned about the lack of procedural transparency and legitimacy and about the report concerning the consolidation of election results," Thun Saray, president of Comfrel's board of directors, said. "We are very concerned about the ballot-counting, because there can be a dispute if the CEC totals the wrong numbers."

NEC Secretary-Generla Tip Nitha told reporters Wednesday the ballot stations would still be required to send tallies to the provincial election offices, as well as the commune offices.

"The NEC has the right to provide some duties to CEC, and added one more duty to the CEC, to watch over the result in the commune, plus total the result, and send all the documents and the results to the PEC," Tep Nitha said. "The PEC can watch over the report and the result from both sides [the ballot stations and the CEC]."

Comfrel also said Wednesday that the security environment surrounding the elections was so far better than years past, but activities of civil officials, authorities and armed forces in favor of the ruling Cambodian People's Party had increased, including "supporting the ruling party [and] activities against other political parties."