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Only Half of Voters Went to Polls: Monitors

Cambodian Buddhist monk, right, casts his ballot in local elections at Wat Than pagoda's polling station in Phnom Penh, Sunday, June 3, 2012.

Only about half of eligible voters went to the polls on Sunday, election monitors say, thanks to a complicated electoral system, confused registries and irregularities at polling sites.

“It’s almost hard to recognize the result,” said Sam Kunteamy, a monitor for the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections, who said about 51 percent of eligible voters cast ballots. “The low turnout is very concerning.”

The ruling Cambodian People’s Party swept the election, winning all but around 40 communes of the country’s 1,633.

Kong Ravine, a monitor for the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said low turnout was due in part to migratory workers, who remained abroad. The groups 6,000 monitors found numerous irregularities and complexities at polling stations that hampered voting, she said.

For example, same voters’ names were “lost,” or villagers stood too close to polling sites, intimidating voters, or villagers remained confused over ID cards and voter information cards, she said.

Comfrel observers were banned from taking pictures at some sites, she told “Hello VOA.”

“There should be reform before the next election,” she said. The National Election Committee must correct the voter registry and ensure that people register sooner for next year’s parliamentary election, she said.

Sam Kunteamy said Nicfec’s 3,000 monitors had found irregularities as well, and had found NEC officials that did not understand voting regulations.