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320,000 New Voters Urged To Register

The National Election Committee hopes to register some 320,000 new voters between October and December, adding to a list of more than 8.3 million.

The NEC announced its figures on Thursday, following an annual survey of voter registration.

“Cambodians of both genders above the age of 18 who have not registered or have changed their residences have the right to register at the commune office where they are living, NEC President Im Sousdey told reporters Thursday.

However, an opposition lawmaker said the NEC was making a difficult task sound easy.

“The National Election Committee seems to have a willingness to promote non-governmental organizations and opposition parties in attracting people eligible to register,” the Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker, Kuoy Bunroeun, said. “But some legal conditions make their registration complicated, such as [a requirement for] identity cards and a residence book.”

The identification of some 4 million people are set to expire between 2011 and 2012—when commune council elections are scheduled—he said. And around half a million voters have double names on the NEC roster, he said.

Im Sousdey said the Ministry of Interior was considering issuing a subdecree to extend the validity of ID cards, and he denied that 500,000 double names were on the NEC books.

“Commune clerks must write down the ID number of voters on the list and issue a receipt confirming their registration,” he said.

Meanwhile, local leaders like Yon Teng, Bak Dav commune chief in Kandal province's Khach Kanal district, are preparing to canvas for registrations.

“We are preparing all the legal documents for unregistered people who are 18 years old in all the villages,” he said.

Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said his organization would help the NEC issue campaign information and register new voters, especially through broadcast media.