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Many in Electorate Don’t Understand System: Monitors

An election worker calls votes off a ballot as election observers look on through a window, (file photo).
An election worker calls votes off a ballot as election observers look on through a window, (file photo).

A high number of Cambodian voters do not understand the electoral process, while others distrust the electoral system, observers say, as registration for next year’s local elections continue.

In forums conducted last year in three provinces and the capital, the Cambodian Center for Human Rights found a high number of people were not convinced elections ensured equal participation and were wary of the National Election Committee.

Cambodia is preparing for commune elections in 2012 and national parliamentary elections the year after.

Kuoy Bunroeun, a lawmaker for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, said the election process is difficult for many Cambodians, while the National Election Committee has not done enough to inform the electorate.

“We must prepare a fair election system to provide the possibility for people to have full rights in registration and voting rights,” he said.

With 460,000 of 470,000 potential new voters registered, NEC Secretary-General Tep Nitha said Monday that people seem to understand the process.

“New eligible voters always go to register, because of their understanding,” he said. “And more importantly, people in new resettlements are going to register. It means that they know their rights and roles in participating in the elections and the democratic process.”

However, Hang Puthea, executive director for the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said the National Election Committee must strengthen its work until the public can accept the committee’s management of the process.

“In relation to the knowledge of elections, Cambodians still need more training,” he said. “That means people will not clearly understand the election process, and they still have a distrust of the election system.”