Poll of­fi­cer counts votes

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - NAW BETTY HAN naw­bet­ty­han@mm­times.com

An elec­tions of­fi­cial counts the bal­lots at a polling sta­tion in Tarmwe township in Yangon dur­ing Satur­day’s by-elec­tions. Ob­servers say vot­ing went smoothly but polling sta­tions could still be im­proved.

A LO­CAL elec­tion-watch group said on Sun­day the vot­ing process for the re­cently-con­cluded by-elec­tions took place smoothly but noted there needs to be im­prove­ment in the polling sta­tions.

The Peo­ple’s Al­liance for Cred­i­ble Elec­tions (PACE) also noted that polling of­fi­cers still lack un­der­stand­ing of the role of elec­tion ob­servers.

A key im­prove­ment needed in polling sta­tions is ac­cess to vot­ers with dis­abil­i­ties, said PACE spokesper­son Sai Ye Kyaw Swar Myint.

He also said that polling sta­tion of­fi­cers must have a clear idea of their du­ties and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

“There were in­ci­dents where ob­servers were not al­lowed to ob­serve the elec­tions ini­tially be­cause of con­fu­sion among polling sta­tion of­fi­cials. While it may not have a big im­pact in these by-elec­tions, it is im­por­tant to have more ef­fec­tive train­ing for polling sta­tion of­fi­cers for the 2020 gen­eral elec­tions,” U Sai Ye Kyaw Swar Myint.

PACE noted in its ini­tial re­port on Satur­day’s by-elec­tions that in about 96 per­cent of polling sta­tions, all the elec­tions ob­servers were al­lowed to en­ter be­fore the start of the vote.

It was only in about 4pc of the polling sta­tions that ob­servers were pre­vented from mon­i­tor­ing the pro­ce­dures.

In lo­ca­tions where ob­servers en­coun­tered prob­lems, they were in­cor­rectly asked by polling sta­tion of­fi­cials to pro­vide Form 8, which is the as­sign­ment form for party agents.

U Sai Ye Kyaw Swar Myint said the Union Elec­tions Com­mis­sion was more suc­cess­ful in manag­ing last year’s by-elec­tions than this year’s vote, not­ing that the re­sults in this year’s elec­tions were not con­firmed one day af­ter vot­ing.

But Khin Lay Nge, a mem­ber of an­other lo­cal elec­tion watch group Phan Tee Eain, said, “It is worth to ac­knowl­edge that there is more gen­der equal­ity among polling sta­tion mem­bers in these by-elec­tions com­pared with pre­vi­ous elec­tions.”

PACE and Phan Tee Eain (PTE) de­ployed 579 ob­servers in 12 townships to mon­i­tor the run­ning of the by-elec­tions for 12 va­cant seats. From re­ports re­ceived thus far, all PACE and PTE ob­servers were able to ob­serve the process.

PACE is an in­de­pen­dent, non­par­ti­san, non-gov­ern­ment do­mes­tic elec­tion ob­server group work­ing to pro­mote trans­parency, ac­count­abil­ity and in­clu­sive­ness in the elec­toral process.

PACE mainly works on civic and voter ed­u­ca­tion, elec­tion ob­ser­va­tion and elec­toral re­form.

PHOTO: NYAN ZAY HTET

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