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Migration blamed for low voter registration figures

A woman has her fingerprint taken during the digitised voter registration process at an office in Phnom Penh earlier this year.
A woman has her fingerprint taken during the digitised voter registration process at an office in Phnom Penh earlier this year. Hong Menea

Migration blamed for low voter registration figures

National Election Committee spokesman Hang Puthea yesterday said the body will likely miss its target of registering 9.6 million eligible voters because of the large number of Cambodian migrant workers who have failed to register.

The NEC and political parties have been appealing to citizens to register for the upcoming commune and national elections after registration numbers fell below the body’s own target of 100,000 per day. As of yesterday only 7.3 million voters had registered with nine days left before the drive ends.

“As the institution in charge of organising elections, we are concerned,” Puthea said. “The NEC has already done what we can. It is now left to people’s participation.”

Puthea said that of the 2.3 million people yet to register, close to two million were migrant workers.

Additionally, the lack of proper documentation and people registering in their home province as opposed to their current residence had resulted in seemingly low registration numbers for certain provinces.

As of Saturday, in Battambang and Banteay Meanchey, less than 70 percent of eligible voters had registered, whereas in Kratie, Tbong Khmum and Kampong Cham the figure was a little above that mark.

“Our estimates assumed people would register in their current communes and not at their home province. However, many seemed to have registered in their homeland,” he added.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen, who was speaking to civil servants in Svay Rieng, also appealed to citizens to register before the November 29 deadline, with opposition leader Sam Rainsy taking to Facebook to make a similar request.

“They must register to vote if they want higher salaries and better working and living conditions. That will be possible with a CNRP-led government determined to curb corruption and promote social justice,” Rainsy said.

Making a similar appeal, jailed opposition officials Hong Sok Hour, Um Sam An and Meach Sovannara issued a letter from Prey Sar prison asking voters to register in order to usher in a government that would ensure justice for prisoners of conscience.

Meanwhile, CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann yesterday said the party will begin the process of recruiting more than 30,000 candidates for the upcoming 2017 commune elections – about 20 for each of Cambodia’s 1,621 communes.

“We have our criteria [for selection], which includes their capacities, honesty, popularity and leadership,” he added.

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