Phnom Penh : Stamps to replace pens in polls

Voters queue up to cast their ballot in the commune elections, however many marked the voting slips incorrectly. KT/Mai Vireak


The National Election Committee says voters will use stamps instead of pens for the next election in a bid to eliminate disputes over incorrectly marked ballots.

NEC president Sik Bun Hok said on Friday that stamps would prevent a repeat of problems that arose at June’s commune elections, when there were many invalid ballots and subsequent complaints from political parties over the issue.

“It won’t be difficult to determine when there is a valid or invalid ballot because there will be only one stamp for voters to use,” he said.

Sam Kuntheamy, executive director of election watchdog NICFEC, said the move to use stamps was a good strategy.

“This could do a lot to reduce invalid ballots,” Mr Kuntheamy said.

“I think it is also easier than ticking by pen.”

He added that people will need to be educated about the change.

“The NEC will need to broadcast this information around the country because it will be a first for the public,” he said.

Mr Kuntheamy said action must also be taken to increase voter registration ahead of the national election in July next year.

Voter registration runs from September 1 to November 9.

The NEC estimates more than 1.6 million people will register to vote this year, but according to a statement from the committee published on Friday, only 230,000 people signed up from September 1 until September 28.

“It’s a low figure because there is just over a month remaining in the voter registration period,” Mr Kuntheamy said, urging the NEC to do more to broadcast information about registration.

He suggested low turnout could be a result of the tense political environment at the moment.

Korn Savang, coordinator for the Committee For Free and Fair Elections, said his organisation had previously recommended the use of stamps to the NEC.

“We are happy and we support the NEC’s decision,” he said.

Mr Savang added that many countries in Asia already used stamps in elections, including South Korea.

Courtesy: Khy Sovuthy / Khmer Times


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