The National Election Committee (NEC) will today release the results of an audit of its own voter list, which it ordered after two other independent audits found the list to be pitted with irregularities that could leave up to 1 million registered voters unable to cast their ballots on July 28.
NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha said Wednesday that the NEC hired regional consultancy Business and Marketing Research Solutions Asia (BMRS) to conduct the audit in order “to clarify the voter lists.”
“The important thing is to be clear on the voter lists—to see how qualified our voter lists are because Comfrel [the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia and NDI [National Democratic Institute] have said that the quality of the voter lists have gone down,” Mr. Nytha said.
The NDI found that more than one in 10 people who are registered for July’s election appear not to exist, and that 9 percent of previous voters have been taken off local voting lists unfairly.
According to Comfrel’s sample survey, 1.25 million voters could lose their right to vote in the election.
The NEC disputed and dismissed the results of both surveys.
Asked whether or not he felt the NEC’s internal audit would be credible and neutral, he said: “We’ve done our study already before we did this. The company did everything.”
BMRS director Phuong Vuthy said the Thai-based company first came to Cambodia in 2010 and sent its surveyors to 100 villages in 24 provinces to interview 2,472 participants.
“Our methodology was that we used a random method to pick up villagers. We asked for their names and their ID card. Then we asked if they had registered for the election. If they said yes, the staff from the NEC would look for their names online. If they said no, they noted it down,” Mr. Vuthy said.
Though the results will be made public today, Comfrel’s executive director, Koul Panha, said he was unsure what good such an audit would do with the elections just two weeks away.
“I think it’s just a reaction to what we studied,” he said. “They should be proactive to see how the NEC can improve—spend money to see how they can improve the system.”
“They should have released an audit in January when they released the voter list. This audit is just a reaction to counter what the independent audits produced in their findings. Now it’s too late with the coming election.”
Laura Thornton, country director of Washington-based NDI, said: “The aim of an audit should be to do an objective assessment of the quality of the list—not to prove yourself right or wrong—in enough time to make any necessary corrections to improve the list and enfranchise voters.”
© 2013, The Cambodia Daily. All rights reserved No part of this article may be reproduced in print, electronically, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without written permission.