It’s dinnertime at My Furry Place. Dogs of all shapes and sizes follow the whiff of brown rice and beef liver into the kitchen of Elma Placido, the owner of this pet sitting business in Phnom Penh. In an adjacent room, about eight cats are perched on any bit of furniture they can find.
The Washington-based National Democratic Institute (NDI) on Tuesday defended its recent audit of the voter list for July’s national election and told the National Election Committee (NEC) that it had not understood the audit’s findings when criticizing it.
The audit, which was conducted in March by NDI, the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (Nicfec), and the Center for Advanced Studies found that more than 1 in 10 of the country’s registered voters did not appear to exist and 9 percent of past voters had their names unfairly removed from the list.
In the wake of its release, the NEC called the results “suspicious” and said it had “no trust of the voter registry audit” because a separate audit conducted by the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (Comfrel) had turned out different results.
“Comfrel and NDI/Nicfec conducted two very different studies, using different methodologies and measuring different things, and, therefore, had different findings,” NDI said in its statement.
The statement also says that while NDI conducted a test to see whether people on the voter list actually existed, Comfrel did not.
The NDI has said since March that the NEC does not appear to understand that statistically valid approaches were used in gleaning information about the voter list.
“These measurements are based on internationally recognized standards developed by election-management bodies,” it said.
The only thing both studies did measure was the percentage of voters who thought they were registered, but were not found on the list.
And in this case, “the findings are statistically the same considering the margin of error,” NDI said.
In the light of what election monitors say is a flawed voter list, the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party has called for the voter list to be redone and the election postponed until all anomalies are resolved. Polls open on July 28 and 9.6 million people are registered to cast votes, according to the NEC’s official voter list.
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