All advance votes cast in Pegu Division’s Shwegyin Township since Oct. 29 will be annulled, according to a local election official, with voters required to recast their ballots on Nov. 6 and 7.
The township election sub-commission said the advance votes were deemed invalid because some individuals, who didn’t qualify to enter early ballots, had cast votes.
In-country advance voting was permitted from Oct. 29 to Nov. 5 for persons with duties at polling stations on election day, including security personnel; firefighters; polling station officers; and candidates in the election. Other citizens are able to cast advance votes on Nov. 6 and 7 if they have applied in advance.
“Advance votes were permitted as of October 29. But civilians cast advance votes at some village and ward election commission offices. As those votes are not legal, we’ll collect advance votes again,” said Win Yi, chairman of the Shwegyin Township election commission.
The local election commission met with candidates from political parties and election monitoring groups on Wednesday and decided to request that advance votes be cast again. The election body refused to comment on the number of advanced ballots cast in the constituency when asked by The Irrawaddy.
The local commission’s decision highlights a confused process of advance voting, with rules reportedly varying in different constituencies across the country. In Mandalay Division on Wednesday, civilians cast advance votes alongside police officers and other security officials.
On Friday, the Myanmar Times quoted a Kamayut Township election official in Rangoon Division as saying that some civilians in the constituency had been permitted to cast their vote earlier.
Saw Thalay, a Lower House candidate for the National League for Democracy (NLD) in Shwegyin Township took issue with the local commission’s handling of the process.
“They said their mistake was not intentional and that their staff collected advance votes [without knowing] the regulations. They said they corrected it as soon as they knew,” Saw Thalay said. “But according to my knowledge, a person is only legally allowed to cast a vote once. Now, it seems that a person can vote twice.”
There are over 60,000 voters registered in Shwegyin Township and 78 polling stations, according to the Shwegyin Township election sub-commission. Ruling party candidate Hla Min, a former Lt-Gen, is among those contesting a Lower House seat in the constituency.