PACE to in­de­pen­dently ver­ify voter list

The Myanmar Times - - News - SHOON NAING shoonnaing@mm­times.com

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.

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