Voter registration drive finishes with record number voters listed

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Officials at a registration centre in Phsar Doeum Thkov commune of the capital’s Chamkarmon district in October. Heng Chivoan

The number of eligible voters on the voter list has reached 9,203,262 – the highest number ever recorded – including 442,440 new registrants who registered to vote prior to the November 30 deadline, according to National Election Committee (NEC) officials.

NEC member Hel Sarat said at a meeting with stakeholders on November 30 that the verification of the voter lists and the registration of voters in every commune across the country began on November 12 and finished on November 30.

Sarat also said that 215,275 names were removed from the voter list, another 184,081 had their information updated and 144,126 people relocated to new communes, making the final tentative number of people on the 2021 voter list 9,203,262.

NEC spokesman Som Sorida said that if the tentative number holds up after examination, it will be the highest figure yet recorded.

He said that in the past 49 days, the NEC’s voter registration team has worked with nearly one million eligible voters, despite the disruptions of Covid-19 and flooding.

“They worked with more than 440,000 newly registered people, deleted more than 210,000 names and corrected the data of nearly 200,000 people. During this period, they also verified the transfer of nearly 150,000 voters from their old commune of residence to a new one, which is a large figure compared to other years,” he said.

Sorida gave his assurances that the voter list being prepared by the NEC is guaranteed to be up-to-date and acceptable for the upcoming commune council election in 2022.

Top Rithy, head of the NEC’s General Department of Legal and Technical Services, said that in 2020 there were 202,614 newly registered people as compared to 2021 which had 442,440 new voters – an increase of about 200 per cent.

He said NEC estimates the number of people over the age of 18 who are not yet on the voter list using statistics based on three data sources – the population statistics of the Ministry of Planning, the statistics on citizens from the Ministry of Interior, and the population statistics taken from communes across the country.

He said that from 2017 until the date of the election next year it is estimated that there will be more than 1.6 million people who have turned or will turn 18, including people living and working abroad who have not yet registered on the voter list. The NEC will still permit migrant workers and those who were abroad to register for the upcoming elections if they return to Cambodia.

Sao Vandeth, a representative of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), said his party appreciated the hard work that went into preparing the annual voter verification and registrations and he was glad to see that it went smoothly without any significant problems.

Ry Sovanndalin, a representative of the Cambodian Intellectuals Association, said this year’s voter registration process was apparently a success and he was glad to see the increased use of technology to facilitate voter registrations.

However, Sam Sokuntheamy, the executive director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (NICFEC), said that although the total number of voters registered is higher than last year, it still has not reached the figure that NEC had planned for because some people remained undecided as to whether they will cast a ballot.