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Election Group Suggests Revamped, Modern Voter Registry

Cambodian workers look through a partition of a construction site below a banner which reads "Where is my vote" as supporters of opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party gather in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013.

A new voter registration system that could eliminate irregularities would cost about $17 million, an election monitor said Thursday.

Cambodia’s current voter registration process makes it hard for some people to register and is missing many names, particularly of opposition supporters, who complain they are stymied by local officials loyal to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

A new system would eliminate duplicate names and improperly spelled names, but would also be based on the old registry, Koul Panha, head of the monitoring group Comfrel, told reporters.

The new registry could be 98 percent accurate, using computers and biometrics, like fingerprints, to avoid some of the problems of the old system, he said.

An estimated 1.2 million eligible voters were found deleted from the voter registry for the 2013 election, which the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party claimed it lost due to fraud and irregularities.

Kouy Boun Rouen, the Rescue Party’s head of elections, said he supports the new system, which will make it easier for people to register and to vote.

Hy Rong, who is in charge of operations at the National Election Committee, said he welcomed input from NGOs like Comfrel, but the NEC is currently waiting for negotiations between the opposition and ruling party on the formation of the election body.