PHNOM PENH —
Election observers are urging the National Election Committee to move quickly on updates to the voter registry, as commune elections in 2017 approach.
The newly revamped NEC ended an initial round of discussions on regulations and procedures Thursday, but election observers say the voter registry should be a top priority.
In fact, it needs to be completed by May, to allow time for revisions and corrections, said Koul Panha, head of the election monitoring group Comfrel. “If it is in that month, there will be time left over for adjustments, when there are errors, before the commune election in 2017,” he said.
The NEC Thursday discussed voter IDs, technical issues with transferring voter names across registries, and ID verification.
NEC Deputy Director Kouy Bunroeung told reporters afterward that the agency will push to establish new voter lists “as soon as possible” and in consultation with Japanese and European election experts.
Clean voter lists are a major concern, following reports of irregularities in the 2013 national election that led to a deadlocked government and intense negotiations in 2014 between the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party.
Koul Panha said the NEC must find a way to register migrant workers, as well. “We have to make sure that we have a mobile registration team along the Thai border,” he said. “We haven’t set up the system of voting in embassies, since the law does not provide such rights to the NEC. But the NEC can organize registration teams in the countryside, which can go to the Thai borders to help list the names of migrant workers there.”