Man­dalay elec­tion of­fi­cials get an early start on the voter list corrections pro­cess

The Myanmar Times - - News - MAUNG ZAW maungzaw@mm­times.com

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

Photo: Aung Htay Hlaing

Vot­ers check their names on the Thin­gangyun town­ship elec­tion com­mis­sion’s lists ahead of the Novem­ber 2015 poll.

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