The rhythmic whir of machinery and the sour smell of ink filled the Tuol Kok district factory where the National Election Committee has begun printing 10,454,400 ballot papers needed for the July national election.
The Ly Van Hong Printing House was opened Wednesday to election monitors and the media by NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha and a handful of NEC officials. The company was selected from a pool of four bidders for the $1.6 million contract to print the ballots, Tep Nytha said. A fire crew keeps constant watch over the printing house, he added.
As part of their contract, the printers are producing 24 different ballot papers for the country’s 24 provinces and municipalities, Tep Nytha said.
According to ballot examples on display Wednesday, the voter slips all sport the logos of competing political parties and the election date is perforated into the top, left-hand corner. But paying for the ballot print run may become a problem.
The NEC lacks $1.2 million of the money needed to pay for the printing job, Tep Nytha said, adding that the committee is “seeking funds from the government.”
SRP lawmaker Kuy Bunroeun alluded to preferential treatment for the winning printing firm and poor print quality, while taking part in the visit Wednesday.
“This printing house is close to NEC and the government,” he said.
Tep Nytha was quick to defend the NEC’s choice of printer, noting that the decision was based both on price and workmanship. He also pointed out the perforated date mark.
“The hole number on the ballot cannot be photocopied,” he said, adding that there are other “secret marks” on the ballot paper that only a few NEC officials know about to prevent ballot fraud.
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