NEC Announces Shortcut for Voters Without IDs

The National Election Committee (NEC) on Thursday shortened the process voters without national identity cards must complete to prove their identity at polling stations on Sunday, a move an election monitor and the CNRP said came too late.

Previously, those who did not have ID cards had to go through a complicated process to obtain an official voter identification document, including visiting a commune chief and taking two witnesses residing in their commune to the commune elections committee. Now, voters only need their local election committee to sign the registration identification document they were issued when registering to vote last year.

A woman holds up her new identification card after registering to vote in Phnom Penh in September. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Voters have until 5 p.m. on Saturday—the day before Election Day—to get the document signed, the NEC said.

Kim Chhorn, senior program coordinator for the Committee for Free and Fair Elections (Comfrel), said the NEC had told them this week that of the 400,000 voters who did not have ID cards, about 300,000 had official voting slips. Another 100,000 did not yet have the right documents to be able to vote, he said.

Mr. Chhorn said the shortcut should have been implemented when Comfrel made the recommendation to the NEC on Monday as there was now not enough time to tell voters about the change.

“The time is very constrained,” he said. “If they issued the letter a week ago it would be OK, but now it is not efficient…. Now it’s too late.”

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said the tight window was a “big concern” and agreed a statement should have been issued earlier.

“They should have made an announcement…one or two months before the elections,” he said. “Nobody knows about it.”

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said he was not worried about the timing of the NEC’s announcement because technology would enable the message to spread quickly. There were also enough officials on the ground to process paperwork, he said.

“It seems there is no problem because in each commune, there are about 700 people only. So, 500 to 600 already have identification cards,” Mr. Eysan said. “So the [number of] people who use the identification-confirmed document is not too much that the commune election committee cannot handle it.”

A separate statement released by the NEC also advised the public that voting information brochures did not need to be shown in order to be allowed into polling booths, a common misconception from previous elections, Comfrel’s Mr. Chhorn said.

“So far, some voters are confused,” he said. “Some voters have not received voter information, and when they do not receive voter information they feel that they cannot vote.”

NEC spokesman Hang Puthea could not be reached on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the CNRP’s Mr. Sovann said some voters were still confused about the parties’ numbered position on the ballots, incorrectly believing they were the same as the last election.

“They should repeat the announcement through the media—social media, television, radio stations,” he said. “They should have started from last month.”

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