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ELECTION 2015

Election Monitor Cites Low Turnout, Lack of Information in Voter List Review

With final voter list reviews complete in most areas of Burma, an election monitoring group said voter turnout was low and education campaigns limited.


RANGOON — With a final display of voter lists now concluded in most areas of the country, an election monitoring group has found that voter turnout was low and education and mobilization campaigns limited, although there was no official obstruction reported.

The People’s Alliance for Credible Elections (PACE) said in a report on Thursday that voter education materials were not cited at approximately 41 percent of centers visited. At 64 percent of centers, no voter education activities were observed.

The group visited 868 local election offices in 110 townships—with a roughly equal spread of urban and rural locales—across the country from Sept. 14-27.

“Seventeen percent of observed centers were not open in accordance with the schedule and during designated hours as directed by the UEC [Union Election Commission],” said Sai Ye Kyaw Swar Myint, executive director of PACE.

He said the group also found that in some centers, election officials did not accept corrections systematically using specified forms and procedures.

Most township UEC offices concluded a final fortnight-long display of voter lists on Sunday. However, the UEC announced last week that the display period would be extended in 14 townships across five flood-hit regions of the country, allowing affected voters more time to check their registration for the general election on Nov. 8.

PACE observed that representatives of civil society and political parties were notably absent from the majority of election offices. The group also reported that voter turnout appeared lower than expected, particularly given widespread concern the lists are marred by errors.

The monitoring group did not focus on the accuracy of voter lists, which has been frequently raised by Burma’s main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), which fears many eligible voters may be turned away on polling day.

“Even just in Rangoon Division, the voter lists were riddled with faults,” said Win Htein, an NLD central executive committee member, at a forum on preventing electoral conflict on Wednesday.

He said that according to the party’s voter list review in Rangoon’s South Okkalapa Township, the names of over 90,000 people were wrongly added to the initial voter roll.

PACE recommended that the UEC, political parties and CSOs intensify voter education in the lead-up to November and meet to discuss strategies for mitigating potential electoral disputes on polling day.