PACE to independently verify voter list
MEMBERS of the polling watchdog People’s Alliance for Credible Elections announced yesterday that they will conduct an independent verification of the voter lists prior to the 2017 by-election.
Scheduled for April 1, the by-election will fill 19 parliamentary seats that currently sit vacant.
Advocacy officer Daw Nang Neichi Minn explained that while PACE did observe the 2015 general election, they did not verify voter lists.
“The one thing we need to focus on more for this by-election is voter list verification and in order to do so, we need the voter lists from the Union Election Commission [UEC],” she said.
The voter lists were a contentious part of last year’s election, with the National League for Democracy (NLD) at one point suggesting the historic vote be postponed, pending a large number of outstanding corrections to the electoral rolls. The NLD released an open letter saying voter lists that went on display in the second phase of the display cycle featured error rates ranging from 30 percent to 80pc.
The voter lists were strongly criticised but none of the organisations – neither the UEC, nor political parties, nor civil society organisations – were responsible for the verification of the lists’ errors, according to PACE executive director Sai Ye Kyaw Swar Myint.
“We also were not able to check how the errors happened and what percentage [of names] were wrong and so on,” he said.
Sai Ye Kyaw Swar Myint added that PACE observers need to get voter lists from the UEC in a digital format in order to analyse the data.
“Currently, the UEC is updating the voters list for the [by-election] constituencies and basically they agreed to let us check it when they are done,” he said. “They will finish their process on November 30, but I am not sure when we will receive the lists.”
The upcoming by-election will be a good test for the UEC, PACE officials said – a chance to see the extent to which errors have been corrected.
“Although there are only a few seats in this by-election, I believe that this is important for our country’s democratic transition and also for the new UEC and the new government,” said Sai Ye Kyaw Swar Myint.
PACE is an independent, non-partisan and non-governmental domestic election observer group based in Yangon.