The National Election Committee will begin a voter registration pilot project in 43 villages in November, using a new computer system to store data as the country heads toward local elections in 2017.
The new NEC was established earlier this year, following political negotiations between the ruling party and opposition. Election observers and others had long complained that the old NEC was biased toward the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, and that voter registration was made difficult for supporters of the opposition.
NEC spokesman Hang Puthea said the committee will spend 15 days on the pilot project before full registration begins in early 2016. The system includes new computer technology and the means of storing a lot of data.
Computerized registration will mean less errors and prevent double registration, he said. The pilot project alone will cost around $70,000, and actual voter registration as much as $8 million, he said. That has created some concern over whether the budget has enough money, even though the EU and Japan have pledged to help the process.
Koul Panha, head of the election monitoring group Comfrel, said the pilot project should have been done in October, to ensure the NEC had time to correct errors before the system rolls out nationally. “We are concerned with the timing, because it has been delayed,” he said. He also blamed the small budget allocated the NEC by the government for the delays.