Mandalay election officials get an early start on the voter list corrections process
ALREADY looking ahead to the 2020 general election, Mandalay Region voter lists are being corrected and updated on a quarterly basis, according to the director of the region’s election subcommission.
The voter rolls for the 2015 election came under fire for containing many omissions, duplications and misspellings. Despite several iterations of public postings with an opportunity for name checking and updates, the continuously incorrect lists caused panic in some townships. In the worst scenarios, as many as 250,000 names were missing, and voters feared high potential for list manipulation and ballot fraud.
But Mandalay election subcommission director U Kyaw Kyaw Soe said his team is committed to getting an early start on finessing the 2020 electoral rolls.
“There are errors in the current voter lists,” he said. “Voter lists were not corrected until too close to Election Day in this recent election. Some people could not vote. Therefore, we are going to begin correcting the lists earlier.”
The list correction process will start at the township and village levels. Election officials will work their way up to the regional level, cross checking for duplicate names and deceased voters.
“The process will be more complicated if it is carried out later,” he said. “That is why we started doing it now.”
There were people over the age of 18 who could not get on the list for the 2015 election and they remain off the list today. U Kyaw Kyaw Soe said the region’s subcommission is working to make sure all eligible voters can cast ballots the next time around.
Mandalay resident Ko Aung Phyo, 28, was one of the eligible voters who was unable to cast a ballot in last November’s polls.
“The election is an important thing for the entire country,” he said. “It is very frustrating not getting to vote in the election simply because the voter lists are wrong ... It is a very important thing to correct the voter list.”
Recently, the Union Election Committee took heat from both local and international election watchdog groups, which claimed that voters’ rights organisations should get an early look at the lists, and from a Union Solidarity and Development Party official, who said they should be more forthcoming with the media.
The UEC was hit with criticism last year largely over widespread errors on the voter lists, but also fuelled anger among international monitors for upholding the decision to revoke the candidacy of dozens of Muslim contestants.
Last year, the UEC rejected a call from the National League for Democracy to postpone the November 7 vote in order to revamp the voter list and ensure more accurate enumeration. The NLD released an open letter to the UEC saying voter lists that went on display in the second phase of the electoral roll project featured error rates ranging from 30 to 80 percent.
Over 4 million people were enumerated on the 2015 voter lists in Mandalay Region, according to the commission.
– Translation by Emoon
Voters check their names on the Thingangyun township election commission’s lists ahead of the November 2015 poll.