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ELECTION 2015

Irrawaddy Liveblog: Burma at the Ballot Box

The Irrawaddy's rolling coverage of election day, as people across the country cast their vote in what has been billed as the freest and fairest election in 55 years.


9:20 pm: We’re going to leave things here for the night. You can read our wrap-up of the vote here, and be sure to check out our interview with Bertil Lintner about his thoughts on the day.

Despite flaws with voter lists and polling procedures in various locations across the country, the election was conducted without any reported instances of violence, and we are yet to hear of any large-scale evidence of vote tampering. Early figures from individual polling stations, mainly in metropolitan areas, suggest the National League for Democracy is in a solid position. Our results page will be live tomorrow and we’ll bring you declared results as they come. Until then, good night and thank you for joining us on this exciting and historic day.—The Irrawaddy team.


 

9:10 pm: Local NLD officials in Loikaw, the capital of Karenni State, have lodged a complaint against what they say was the sudden arrival of more than 5,000 advance votes at the election commission’s township office. NLD Loikaw chairman Tin Myint told The Irrawaddy that the commission had said to him the votes were from overseas workers and soldiers at the frontline.

“But they can’t give us a proper explanation as to the name of the battalions and which countries the votes came from,” he said. —Reporting by Kyaw Kha in Loikaw.


 

8:55 pm: One more from Eleven Media, just to round things out. After the experience of the 2010 election, there were many concerns about the integrity of the advance voting system this time around. In Rangoon’s Saunchaung Township, the NLD advance vote tally was 592; the USDP total was 29.


 

8:39 pm: Eleven Media have been publishing results from individual polling stations as they come to hand. In almost all of them, it appears the NLD is convincingly ahead of the USDP. In some polling stations in Rangoon, the opposition party is ahead by a factor of eight to one.

Elsewhere, the Union Election Commission has announced it will announce results six times a day between tomorrow and next Sunday at its media centers in Rangoon and Naypyidaw, which will be republished in state-run media outlets. The announcements will be made at 9am, midday, 3pm, 6pm, 9pm and 11pm.


 

8:35 pm: Based on preliminary results from Bahan’s No. 1 polling station, it appears that independent divisional lawmaker Dr. Nyo Nyo Thin’s quest for a Lower House seat has been defeated. Eleven Media reports that the NLD’s Tun Myint is ahead with 610 votes, followed by Nyo Nyo Thin at 65 and the USDP candidate at 63.


 

8:30 pm: Hundreds of voters in Mandalay remain gathered in front of the divisional NLD office watching the count progress on two LED screens.

The results are being collated by party officials, who are present at polling stations across the country. According to the figures, NLD candidates are leading in townships across Mandalay, including Aungmyaythazan, Chanmyatharzi, Patheingyi, Amarapura, Chanayethazan and more. As results appear on the board favoring the NLD, the crowd cheers jubilantly.

“I came from the downtown area with my friends to see the winning results with my own eyes,” said Ivy, 25, who was among the crowd on Sunday night. Many in the crowd expect to watch the count all night. —Reporting by Zarni Mann in Mandalay.

The crowd outside the NLD's Mandalay office on Sunday night. (Photo: Teza Hlaing / The Irrawaddy)
The crowd outside the NLD’s Mandalay office on Sunday night. (Photo: Teza Hlaing / The Irrawaddy)

 

7:40 pm: Reporter Yen Snaing, who’s been following the vote count in Moulmein’s Hlaing ward for the last few hours, has some numbers from the final count at one polling station. In the Lower House, the NLD’s Naing Thaung Nyunt is well ahead on 1,259 votes. The USDP’s Lwin Moe is his nearest rival in the five-cornered contest, taking 205 votes, followed by the Mon National Party’s Min Zayar Oo at 47. In the Upper House, the NLD leads at 1,108, followed by the USDP at 214 and the MNP at 61. In both races, the National Development Party barely registered.


 

7:15 pm: Here’s our wrap of how the vote went down today. We’ll continue to bring you updates here as they come. In the meantime, here’s a pic from outside the NLD’s headquarters in Rangoon:

A view from outside the NLD's Rangoon headquarters. (Photo: Nyo Min Soe / The Irrawaddy)
(Photo: Myo Min Soe / The Irrawaddy)

 

6:50 pm: Still very early, but it appears that NLD candidate Dr May Win Myint is winning the overwhelming majority of votes in most polling stations in Rangoon’s Mayangone Township. According to the BBC’s Jonah Fisher, the NLD’s Tin Oo has reportedly told the crowd at the party’s Rangoon office that the USDP’s ‘Bullet’ Hla Swe is losing the race in Magwe’s Gangaw Township.


 

6:46 pm: Reporter Zarni Mann has sent in this photo of crowds gathered outside the NLD’s Mandalay office. As before, the crowds cheer whenever there’s news of an NLD candidate leading the count:

Crowds at the NLD office in Mandalay on Sunday night. (Photo: Zarni Mann / The Irrawaddy)
(Photo: Zarni Mann / The Irrawaddy)

 

 

6:41 pm: NLD cofounder Tin Oo has told those gathered at the party’s Rangoon headquarters that the vote count will take time, but the party was in a good position so far. —Reporting by Kyaw Hsu Mon in Rangoon. 


 

Voters in Pathein Leave It Late

6:25 pm:  Hundreds of voters have not yet cast their ballots and are queuing at three polling stations in Pathein Township, Irrawaddy Division, more than an hour after polls officially closed at 4 pm.

Turnout hovered at around 50 percent at all three of the polling stations when polling officers cut off their acceptance of new arrivals at 4pm, but hundreds who arrived before the deadline should raise that figure before the night is out. Each of the three polling stations had around 3,000 names on their rosters of eligible voters. At one local primary school, converted into a polling center, at least 400 voters were still waiting to receive a ballot as the 4 pm deadline struck.

Officers of the three polling stations told The Irrawaddy that all voters arriving prior to 4 pm would be able to cast a ballot. — Reporting by Salai Thant Zin in Pathein.

Poll station queues in Pathein. (Photo: Salai Thant Zin / The Irrawaddy)
(Photo: Salai Thant Zin / The Irrawaddy)

 

6:10 pm: More results, this time courtesy of reporter Lawi Weng. The NLD’s Nay Myo Htet has prevailed over a crowded field of seven other candidates at one polling station in downtown Rangoon’s Kyauktada Township, winning 371 votes. His closest rival, USDP incumbent Soe Win, won 141 votes.


 

6:05 pm: While a couple of counts are being televised openly on Skynet, reporter Yen Snaing has told us that at her polling station in Moulmein’s Hlaing ward, election commission officers have barred journalists from taking photos of the proceedings.


 

6:00 pm: One election observer has told us that a number of polling stations in Rangoon are breaking around 85 percent in favor of the NLD. Again, very preliminary.


 

5:36 pm: Skynet is broadcasting the advance vote count for the Lower House seat of Zigon in Pegu Division, where Vice President and former Navy chief Nyan Tun is leading NLD candidate Thet Naing Oo by 75-21. His lead is likely to shrink when votes from the day start coming in.


 

5:29 pm: Our reporter Tin Htet Paing, down in the Delta at Hinthada, reports that at her polling station, USDP c0-chairman Htay Oo is ahead by a nose over his NLD rival in advance votes, 82-78.


 

5:20 pm: The vote count is underway in Moulmein’s Hlaing ward:

(Photo: Yen Snaing / The Irrawaddy)
(Photo: Yen Snaing / The Irrawaddy)

 

5:15 pm: Eleven Media is also running this picture on their English language Facebook page:

ELEVEN

A timely reminder, and worth mentioning again, as we did below, that all results are provisional until the Union Election Commission declares them. Though we should have more details of the count tonight, the first batch of results should be official on Monday at 9am, with further results daily until Sunday, Nov. 15.


 

5:08 pm: Eleven Media is reporting that the count has finished for one village in Magwe’s Yesagyo Township, with the NLD’s Kyaw Ngwe leading USDP rival Tin Maung by 152-61. There’s more than 140,000 eligible voters in the township, so a long way to go. The crowd is still cheering in Maha Aung Myay on the TV.


 

5:01 pm: On Skynet, Cheering in the crowd as polling officers count advance ballots marked for the NLD in Mandalay’s Maha Aung Myay Township. Someone just let out a loud sigh of disappointment when a USDP ballot was announced.


 

UEC to Begin Announcing Election Results at 9am Monday

4:57 pm: The UEC will begin announcing election results at 9 am on Monday, according to Rangoon commission member Thant Zin Aung. The official told The Irrawaddy that results will be announced by respective legislature in each constituency. The UEC will be operating media centers at the commission’s headquarters in the capital, as well as at the UEC information center in Rangoon. Results are expected to trickle in through to Nov. 15.


 

4:50 pm: Irrawaddy reporter Teza Hlaing, currently in Pyin Oo Lwin, said the count is underway there and NLD candidate Dr. Aung Khin is leading the vote there against the USDP’s Kyaw Nyunt.


 

4:43 pm: Skynet’s coverage shows, unsurprisingly, that Suu Kyi is leading the count in Kawhmu. In the Lashio contest, Tun Shwe is leading by around 140 votes to 60. Again, very early days.


 

4:37 pm: Skynet has been broadcasting the start of the count from various spots in the country. At this very early stage, it looks like the NLD candidate Tun Shwe is leading against Vice President Sai Mauk Kham in the Lower House seat of Lashio.


4:33 pm: More tales of disenfranchisement from some would-be voters, this time in Magwe Division’s Nat Mauk, where a local from Lae Bu village said around 170 residents could not vote as their names did not appear on final voter lists.

Elsewhere, in Natogyi Township, Mandalay Division, local resident Mya Aung said the local USDP chapter provided some voters with free lunch. The party office is located just a few meters away from the voting station. Some USDP members reportedly said the lunch was for voters who supported them. —Reporting by Zarni Mann in Mandalay. 


100 Hpakant Voters Denied Access to Polling Station

4:19 pm: Around 100 voters in the Kachin State township of Hpakant are still waiting outside a polling station to vote, even after a polling officer denied them entry after finding their names were missing from the list.

Kain Ra, a voter in Sint Mon ward, told the Irrawaddy that their names were in earlier versions of the ward voter list but not in the list used by the polling station today.

“We are all Kachin, we want to vote and we can’t,” she said. “We have queued the whole long day to vote, and now we feel sick.” —Reporting by Kyaw Hsu Mon in Rangoon. 


 

Villagers in Thabeikkyin Township Lose Suffrage
4:12 pm: Residents of an entire village in Mandalay Division’s Thabeikkyin Township were disenfranchised, according to locals. Tun Win Naing of Inpyan village, with a population of over 100, said voter lists were never displayed in their village and, on election eve, a local administrator informed would-be voters to cast ballots at a neighboring village, some 10 miles away. They say that when they arrived at the ballot station in Nyaunglaybin village, as directed, they were informed they could not vote as they were not on the voter list.

Khin Maung Swe, an administrator in Inpyan Village, said: “I myself lost the vote. The village-tract electoral staff didn’t give me any instructions. So I phoned them on the evening of Nov. 3 and they asked me to create the voter list and submit it to them by Nov. 4. I was away from the village at that time. How can I make the list overnight?” —Reporting by Thin Thin Thaw in Mandalay Division.


4:08 pm: AFP quotes an election official as saying today’s poll saw an 80 percent turnout.


 

4:00 pm: Officially, polls have now closed. Any person arriving to polling stations after 4 pm is to be denied the chance to vote, though individuals who have queued to vote ahead of the 4 pm cutoff must be allowed the opportunity to cast a ballot, even if they are doing so after the deadline. Know your rights! We’ll continue to bring you updates.


 

3:56 pm: Myanmar Now chief correspondent Thin Lei Win has written a compelling article on the “bittersweet” experience of voting for the first time.

Myanmar Now chief correspondent Thin Lei Win after voting. (Photo: Myanmar Now)
(Photo: Myanmar Now)

 

Muslims Vote in Arakan Camp for Internally Displaced

3:52 pm: About 100 Muslim citizens, mostly ethnic Kaman and a few Rohingya recently granted legal status, exercise their right to vote in Kyaukphyu, Arakan State. Police and security personnel transported the voters from their homes in a camp for internally displaced persons to this polling station, in an area under the command of the Burma Army Light Infantry Battalion 542. A number of the voters told The Irrawaddy that they support the NLD, and some alleged that the ruling USDP had offered money to IDPs to vote in their favor. Less than ten percent accepted the offer, they said.

More than 140,000 people were displaced by a series of deadly inter-communal riots between Arakanese Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in 2012. The vast majority of the displaced were Rohingya, but other communities, including the Kaman, were also affected. The Kaman are recognized as an official ethnic group in Burma, while the Rohingya are denied citizenship and—as of earlier this year—the suffrage rights they enjoyed during all previous elections. —Reporting by Khin Oo Tha in Kyaukphyu.

Muslim IDP voters

 

3:49 pm: The Irrawaddy has visited a number of polling stations in Mon State today. State capital Moulmein had a high turnout, though some ethnic Bamar voters were excluded from the voter list for the state ethnic affairs minister contest. Polling officers reportedly did not allow voters left off the list to cast a ballot, even if their identification listed them as Bamar. Other voters were barred from the poll after being left off the voter list entirely. —Reporting by Yen Snaing in Moulmein. 

A polling station in Moulmein. (Photo: Yen Snaing / The Irrawaddy)
A polling station in Moulmein. (Photo: Yen Snaing / The Irrawaddy)

 

3:40 pm: Staff photographer Steve Tickner has been going through his shots for the day and happened across this picture of seasoned journalist Bertil Lintner, author of numerous books on Burma and longtime Irrawaddy contributor, speaking to reporters outside the Bahan primary school where Aung San Suu Kyi voted this morning:

Bertil Lintner speaks to journalists in Bahan during Burma's 2015 election. (Photo: Steve Tickner / The Irrawaddy)
(Photo: Steve Tickner / The Irrawaddy)

 

3:34 pm: A total of 27 people from the Yaung Chi Thit School for the Blind have cast their votes in Monywa. —Reporting by Thit Nay Moe in Monywa.

Blind voter in Monywa. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)
(Photo: The Irrawaddy)

 

3:23 pm: Here’s US Ambassador Derek Mitchell speaking to media outside a high school in Mandalay’s Maha Aung Myay Township:

US Ambassador to Burma Derek Mitchell. (Photo: Myat Pyae Phyo / The Irrawaddy)
(Photo: Myat Pyae Phyo / The Irrawaddy)

 

Backdoor Balloting for Wanted Student Activist

3:09 pm: Nan Lin, a fugitive student activist who is wanted in connection with a protest he helped organize against the military’s role in Burmese politics earlier this year, says he exercised his franchise on Sunday despite being wanted by police in two Rangoon townships.

“This election is about change for the country,” he told The Irrawaddy. “Democratic forces and ethnic alliances need to win this election. I am a citizen and my job is to vote, that is what I believe. To catch me is other people’s job.”

Nan Lin cast his ballot at a polling station in Rangoon’s Yankin Township and remains at large, facing charges in the commercial capital’s Kyauktada and Pebedan townships for alleged incitement and illegally protesting. The audacious cloak and dagger balloting, according to the student activist, required nothing more than a baseball cap to throw authorities off his scent, even amid a bolstered police presence in Rangoon for election day. —Reporting by Nobel Zaw in Rangoon.

Nan Lin, who is wanted by Rangoon authorities, shows off the indelible purple ink that polling officials apply to the finger of voters after they have cast their ballot. (Photo: Facebook / Nan Lin)
Nan Lin, who is wanted by Rangoon authorities, shows off the indelible purple ink that polling officials apply to the finger of voters after they have cast their ballot. (Photo: Facebook / Nan Lin)

 

3:00 pm: Locals allege that more than 100 out of town voters were brought to a polling station in Mandalay’s Maha Aung Myay Township this afternoon.

Voters in Maha Myaing ward notified observers at the polling station after saying they had never seen any members of the group before. By the time they spoke to observers, around 20 of the group had cast a vote.

Two trucks left, while observers stopped the remaining four. Most of the voters were women and reportedly employees of the Myit Nge Toll Gate and their families and friends, residents said. The Mandalay Division office of the election commission is now investigating. —Reporting by Zarni Mann in Mandalay.


 

2:45 pm: A member of the Ta’ang National Party says that election observers from four political parties have been prevented from scrutinizing the poll in four villages under the control of the Pansay militia in Namkham Township. We’ll have more to come in a wrap-up later in the day. —Reporting by Lawi Weng in Rangoon. 


 

2:38 pm: Former Military Intelligence chief Khin Nyunt, coiner of the phrase “discipline-flourishing democracy”, exercised his constitutional rights with his wife in Rangoon’s Mayangone Township at around 2pm. Sadly, we didn’t get a chance to ask who he voted for.

Khin Nyunt and his wife after voting in Mayangone. (Photo: Hein Htet / The Irrawaddy)
(Photo: Hein Htet / The Irrawaddy)

 

2:29 pm: Here’s another photo of Aung San Suu Kyi among constituents in Kawhmu this morning:

(Photo: Steve Tickner / The Irrawaddy)
(Photo: Steve Tickner / The Irrawaddy)

 

USDP Tycoon Candidate ‘Zaykabar’ Khin Shwe Says Voted for Suu Kyi

2:25 pm: Khin Shwe, the USDP’s Upper House candidate for Kawhmu, told The Irrawaddy he voted for Aung San Suu Kyi in the lower house today.

“I voted for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as she is contesting the Lower House, I am contesting for Upper House, then I voted for my party’s candidates for divisional parliament,” he told The Irrawaddy.

Khin Shwe, whose daughter is married to Union Parliament Speaker Shwe Mann’s son, is the owner of the powerful Zaykabar group of companies. —Reporting by Kyaw Hsu Mon in Rangoon.


 

2:20 pm: There’s now a little over an hour and a half before polls close for the day, and it’s still far too early to give a solid picture of how things are progressing today. We do know that, as anticipated for months, there have been some reported problems in voter lists in several urban locations across the country. We don’t have a clear picture of the number of people. Some polling stations have been plagued by long wait times, while others have not had all the correct ballots for voters—particularly for divisional ethnic affairs minister contests. Early returns from cantonment polling stations in Mandalay suggest solid support for the USDP among military personnel and their families, but it remains to be seen whether this will be replicated across other military polling stations further afield. Of course, it will be days before we have a full picture of what has been happening in remote village tracts and other isolated areas.

Nearly all shops in urban centers are closed for the day, and downtown Rangoon is all but deserted. So far, we haven’t received any reports of violence or disruption to voting. —Reporting by Sean Gleeson in Rangoon.


 

Sagaing Division Chief Casts His Vote

1:58 pm: Sagaing Division Chief Minister Thar Aye cast his vote at a polling station in Budalin Township on Sunday. The divisional chief, a former Lieutenant General who is running for a seat in the divisional parliament with Burma’s ruling party, said he would accept the decision of voters regardless of the outcome. —Reporting by Thit Nay Moe in Budalin. 

Sagaing Division Chief Minister Thar Aye voting in Sagaing Division’s Budalin Township on Sunday.
Sagaing Division Chief Minister Thar Aye voting in Sagaing Division’s Budalin Township on Sunday.

 

1:42 pm: Coconuts Media reports that a photo of Nay Shwe Thway Aung, the grandson of former junta supremo Than Shwe, casting a ballot for the USDP while sitting on his couch has gone viral on Burmese social media.

thanshwe

 

1:35 pm: Nearly two-thirds of eligible voters at a military cantonment polling station in the Kyaunggyisu Ward of the Shan State capital Taunggyi cast their votes in advance, according to the officer of the polling station, with 404 out of 675 registered voters marking their ballots ahead of Sunday’s nationwide poll.

A significant number of advance votes were also received at a civilian polling station, No. 5, in Sao San Tun Ward, a party agent for the National League for Democracy (NLD) told The Irrawaddy, saying 426 out of 1,568 eligible voters went the advance route.

Meanwhile, some voters have reported being allowed only a partial vote on Sunday, with one ethnic Burman woman who sought to select a Shan State Burman ethnic affairs minister candidate being denied the vote without explanation.

“We have five family members, all of us [ethnic] Bamar people. The other four could cast a vote for their Bamar ethnic [affairs] minister, but I was not allowed,” said Lae Lae Moe, who cast her vote for Union Parliament candidates and a state legislator at polling station No. 2 in Sao San Tun Ward. — Reporting by Nang Seng Nom in Taunggyi.

US Ambassador to Burma Derek Mitchell observes polling in Taunggyi on Sunday morning. (Photo: Nang Seng Nom / The Irrawaddy)
US Ambassador to Burma Derek Mitchell observes polling in Taunggyi on Sunday morning. (Photo: Nang Seng Nom / The Irrawaddy)

 

1:28 pm: If you’re deep in the throes of election fever today, you could be forgiven for having missed the big news in today’s Global New Light of Myanmar. Cute!

Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 1.27.28 pm

 

Voting Station Moved Without Notice in Southern Rangoon

1:24 pm: A polling station in Kyauktan Township, on the southern side of the Rangoon River, was moved to another location without any advance notice given to candidates or voters this morning, according to NLD candidate Zaw Moe Lwin.

The new polling station, at Myaing Thayar monastery, was more than 15 minutes walk away from the previous location. More than 300 people are eligible to vote at the monastery, but owing to the confusion, many people apparently believe there is no place for them to cast their ballots.

“I saw the polling station last night, but this morning, it was moved to another place without notice,” said Zaw Moe Lwin. “People went back home without seeing the new station. I heard the station officer moved it because of bad weather.” —Reporting by Kyaw Hsu Mon in Rangoon. 


 

Errors in Mandalay Roster Leave Voters in Tears

1:20 pm: Reports of voter list errors are pouring in from Mandalay, where citizens in several townships say they were excluded from the voter list despite appealing to sub-commissions. A weeping Daw Mya Mya Thet, 50, told The Irrawaddy she was given misleading instructions from polling authorities.

“All five of my family members were not on the list,” she said, showing her national ID card and family registration papers. “We went to the commission office yesterday but they told us to come to the polling station today. Now they are telling us we will not have a chance to vote.”

Others said their names appeared on earlier versions of the list and they did not check the final roster.

“For voters who were left out of the final list even though they checked it and made amendments, we checked their NRC and family registration, and if they were known to the authorities as a resident of the area we recorded that and would let them vote,” an official from the sub-commission office in Maha Aung Myay Township told The Irrawaddy.

“If they failed to complain before election day, we can’t help them.” —Reporting by Zarni Mann in Mandalay


 

USDP Chair Predicts Big Win for Ruling Party

1:15 pm: Speaking to reporters in Irrawaddy Division’s Hinthada Township, ruling party chairman Htay Oo said the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) expects to win more than 60 percent of the nationwide vote. Htay Oo said he believes he will win a majority of the vote in Hinthada, where he is running for a Lower House seat. —Reporting by Tin Htet Paing in Hinthada and Lawi Weng in Rangoon.

Htay Oo after casting his vote in Irrawaddy's Division's Hinthada on Sunday. (Photo: Tin Htet Paing / The Irrawaddy)
Htay Oo after casting his vote in Irrawaddy’s Division’s Hinthada on Sunday. (Photo: Tin Htet Paing / The Irrawaddy)

 

1:12 pm: Zarni Mann, our reporter in Mandalay, said that most military personnel and their families she approached today were still too afraid to speak to the media and did not want their photos taken. When questioned, they ignored her, and some even ran away from the cameras. She said that journalists and election observers were escorted to the voting station by an officer.

A couple of friendly officers did talk to The Irrawaddy. Sergeant Naing Aung, who is in his 50s, said that military personnel were free to vote for whomever they liked. She did not see any election observers aside from a small group from the European Union, while NLD representatives were acting as scrutineers at military polling stations across town.


 

1:05 pm: While we wait for more updates, our reporter Yen Snaing sent this photo from inside a polling station in Moulmein of election commission officers getting ready for the day’s vote. Most of the people pictured work as teachers in the Mon State capital.

Polling workers in Moulmein. (Photo: Yen Snaing / The Irrawaddy)

 

12:59 pm: An Irrawaddy Division minister nearly didn’t get to vote today because someone else had voted under his identity.

Transportation Minister Than Tun showed up at a polling station at Maubin Township on Sunday morning to learn someone else had cast a ballot under his name, using his father’s name and national identity number. With the intervention of the district election commission, he was added into an extended voter list and finally able to participate. —Reporting by Salai Thant Zin in Pathein.


 

12:46 pm: More from Thein Sein. He and his wife voted at a polling station in the Zeya Theidhi quarter of Naypyidaw’s Zabuthiri Township at around 11 am on Sunday. The president briefly spoke to The Irrawaddy’s Nyein Nyein:

What will you do if the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) loses the election?

I have to accept it as it is. I mentioned it in my speech the other day too. Whatever it is [the result], we have to accept our voters’ desire. Whoever leads the country, the most important thing is to have stability and development in the country.

What kind of government do you think Burma will have in 2016?

It depends on the election results.

President Thein Sein casts his ballot on Sunday morning. (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)
President Thein Sein casts his ballot on Sunday morning. (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)

 

Thein Sein Casts His Vote

12:40 pm: President Thein Sein and his wife at a polling station in Zebuthiri Township an hour ago. We’re not sure if our reporters on the ground asked him who he voted for…

President Thein Sein and his wife cast their votes. (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)
(Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)

 

NLD Issues Emergency Statement on Poll Violations

12:36 pm: The NLD issues an emergency announcement stating that it will seek legal recourse over vote buying and irregularities in the collection of advanced votes. The statement said the party had already received reports of unlawful activity in Pathein, the administrative seat of Irrawaddy Division, where villagers were reportedly offered 100,000 kyat rent loans that would be absolved if the USDP secured a victory in the township. “If that is true, we announce that we will take action in accordance with the law because that is unlawful,” the statement read. —Reporting by San Yamin Aung in Rangoon


 

Mandalay Military Polling Stations Show Lead for Former Mayor, USDP 

12:30 pm: At least three of 14 military cantonment polling stations on the grounds of the old Royal Palace in Mandalay have already closed and counted votes, showing a lead for former mayor and independent candidate Phone Zaw Han in the divisional race and USDP candidates in Union consituencies.

Military polling stations 4, 12 and 14 in Aungmyaythazan Township closed before midday after the entire voter roll—48, 85 and 119 people respectively—cast their ballots in the morning. It appears that somewhere in the order of one percent of ballots were cast for the NLD.

There are around 7,000 military personnel based in Mandalay city, which is home to the military’s Central Regional Command. —Reporting by Zarni Mann in Mandalay.

Election commission officers at Mandalay's No. 14 military polling station in Aungmyaythazan Township. (Photo: Zarni Mann / The Irrawaddy)
Election commission officers at Mandalay’s No. 14 military polling station in Aungmyaythazan Township. (Photo: Zarni Mann / The Irrawaddy)

 

12:18 pm: A Lower House candidate for the National Unity Party (NUP), Kyaw Aye, has claimed that although only 50 people cast advance votes at the Letpan Khahla polling station in Aung Thabyay Ward, part of Naypyidaw’s Zabuthiri Township, the names of 103 advance voters have appeared on a list hung at the polling station on Sunday. Kyaw Aye said he has filed a complaint with the township election subcommission, which said it would deal with the matter after the polling station closes at 4 pm on Sunday evening.

In Burma’s 2010 general election, manipulation of advance voting is widely believed to have been used in some races to tip the scales in favor of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party. —Reporting by May Sitt Paing in Naypyidaw.


 

12:10 pm: Military personnel and their families attached to the military’s South Western Command are casting their votes in Pathein. The Irrawaddy was permitted to visit three cantonments and spoke to a number of soldiers and family members lining up to cast their votes.

Sergeant Win Hlaing of Infantry Battalion No. 38 said that they were able to cast votes for any party freely and are not under pressure to vote for a particular party. The Irrawaddy reported last month that soldiers in the Delta had been subjected to intimidation by officers in the higher ranks. —Reporting by Salai Thant Zin in Pathein.

Soldiers and their families outside a cantonment polling station in Pathein. (Photo: Salai Thant Zin / The Irrawaddy)
Soldiers and their families outside a cantonment polling station in Pathein. (Photo: Salai Thant Zin / The Irrawaddy)

 

11:54 am: Ko Ko Gyi, former political prisoner and a prominent member of the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society, casts his vote in Rangoon:

Ko Ko Gyi votes on Nov. 8
(Photo: Ko Ko Gyi / Facebook)

11:52 am: Voter’s lists in the Kachin State capital of Myitkyina are still riddled with errors, National Democratic Force candidate Bauk Ja has told The Irrawaddy.

“Voter’s ID lists have many duplications, and some ballot boxes are too small to store all the votes (at polling stations),” she said. “I’m concerned there will be many rejected votes because polling officers are forcing the ballots into the boxes with rulers.”

She added that there were no published numbers of advance votes and she has relayed her concerns to the township office of the election commission. —Reporting by Kyaw Hsu Mon in Rangoon.


 

11:45 am: Associated Press reports Alexander Lambsdorff, head of the EU’s election oberservation, has said that the integrity of the election has so far been “rather reliable” in Rangoon. He added it was too early to say whether this was the case in other parts of the country.


 

Voters Trickle in at Coco Island Polling Stations

11:38 am: Initial voter turnout appears low in the Coco Islands, Rangoon’s most isolated constituency. Some 400 people cast advance ballots in the constituency of about 1,500 eligible voters, and polling stations are seeing just a trickle of residents. NLD candidate Win Min said the bulk of the voters so far have been military personnel, and that a number of advance votes will likely be annulled because they were moved from polling stations to another location. “We will reject 180 advance votes that a military official took to other islands without counting them at the commission, so we couldn’t monitor their voting,” Win Min said. —Reporting by San Yamin Aung in Rangoon.


 

11:35 am: A polling station in Naypyidaw’s Zabuthiri Township is currently inundated with voters. More than 2,000 voters are expected to cast their ballots at the No.1 polling station in Thabyaegon ward, and some voters told The Irrawaddy they had been waiting for more than three hours. —Reporting by May Sitt Paing in Naypyidaw.


 

11:30 am: As Aung San Suu Kyi heads to her constituency in Kawhmu Township, about a 90 minute drive from her home in Bahan, she has made stops to visit polling stations in two villages. She’s now taking a break for the morning at the office of the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation, named for her late mother, in Hnget Aw San village. —Reporting by Saw Yan Naing in Rangoon.

NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Nant Sin Gone village on Sunday morning. (Photo: Saw Yan Naing / The Irrawaddy)
NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Nant Sin Gone village on Sunday morning. (Photo: Saw Yan Naing / The Irrawaddy)

 

11:20 am: Members of the Buddhist nationalist group Ma Ba Tha dumped two hessian bags full of anti-NLD pamphlets in two villages in Thanlyin Township on Sunday morning, according to witnesses. Par for the course, the pamphlets justify their criticism of the NLD and Aung San Suu Kyi as a legitimate political intervention for the “protection of race and religion”.

“Our Ma Ba Tha is not the henchman of the government and the USDP,” the pamphlets read. “We are not meddling in politics but protecting race and religion.” —Reporting by Aye Chan Myae in Rangoon.


 

11:15 am: Ethnic Arakanese voters living in Insein Township say they have been prevented from casting their vote for the post of Rangoon Division ethnic affairs minister.

“I registered to vote for the ethnic affairs candidate, but I didn’t get a voter ID for this,” voter Tin Tun Oo told The Irrawaddy. “The polling officer told me I can’t vote because there is no voter list for ethnic candidates.” —Reporting by Kyaw Hsu Mon in Rangoon.


 

11:00 am: Remember that video from a few days back? Touting democratic reforms with pictures of mobile phone towers, a despondent-looking clown making balloon animals and a roll call of foreign dignitaries glad-handing Thein Sein, along with a few gruesome scenes from the Middle East and an admittedly rather catchy death metal score? State-run broadcaster MRTV has been running it almost continuously since 6am, alongside clips of the president’s retinue touring the country and a voter education reel giving instructions on how to properly mark election ballots. More power chords in one morning than the entire Iron Cross back catalogue. —Reporting by Sean Gleeson in Rangoon. 


 

10:45 am: Via our Mandalay correspondent Zarni Mann, voters in Aungmyaythazan Township show off their inked fingers after casting their ballots:

Aungmyaythazan Township voters on Sunday

 

10:40 am: The BBC’s Jonah Fisher is reporting that a ‘new decree’ from election commission officials is banning news crews from filming inside polling stations.


 

10:30 am: More than 30 voters from around 10 villages in Rangoon’s Thanlyin Township have been waiting since 6am to cast their ballots. They told The Irrawaddy that their names had disappeared from voter lists overnight.

“When we checked our list yesterday we were included, but today we haven’t been able to vote. A polling officer said to wait for a commission officer in front of the station. We are not happy,” said Aye Tharyar Ward local Than Myint. —Reporting by Kyaw Hsu Mon in Rangoon.


 

Min Aung Hlaing ‘Will Accept’ NLD Victory

10:20 am: As he arrived to cast his vote at Anawrahta Hall, in a rare sighting of the military chief out of uniform, Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing told press in Naypyidaw’s Zeyathiri Township that he would accept a National League for Democracy win in today’s vote if that was the wish of the people. —Reporting by May Sitt Paing in Naypyidaw.

Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing with his voter ID card. (Photo: May Sitt Paing / The Irrawaddy)
Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing with his voter ID card. (Photo: May Sitt Paing / The Irrawaddy)

 

Shwe Mann Votes in Phyu

10:00 am: Union Parliament Speaker Shwe Mann and his wife have voted at a polling station in Phyu Township’s Kwin Nauk Ward. —Reporting by Thuzar in Phyu.

Shwe Mann, third from left, in line at a voting station in Phyu with his wife on Sunday morning. (Photo: Thuzar / The Irrawaddy)
Shwe Mann, third from left, in line at a voting station in Phyu with his wife on Sunday morning. (Photo: Thuzar / The Irrawaddy)

Voter List Errors in Naypyidaw

9:45 am: More than 20 people have been prevented from voting at the No. 1 and 2 Yezin polling stations in Zayyarthiri Township, Naypyidaw, because their voter ID serial numbers are different from the serial numbers listed in the final version of the township’s voter lists.

Khin Myo Thin, the seat’s Lower House candidate for the NLD, said at least 15 people had been excluded because their names were left off voter lists entirely, despite their inclusion in an earlier round of voter lists published in September —Reporting by May Sitt Paing in Naypyidaw.


Suu Kyi Votes in Bahan

9:35 am: A throng of reporters and supporters greeted opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi as she arrived in Rangoon’s Bahan Township just before 9 am on Sunday to cast her vote. She left the polling station just a few minutes later and is en route to Kawhmu, a rural township in Rangoon Division’s southeast, where she is seeking re-election this year. Party representatives said she would spend the day in Kawhmu checking that voting is proceeding smoothly and providing “moral support” to voters there. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy is expecting big gains in Sunday’s vote. —Reporting by Kyaw Phyo Tha in Rangoon.

National League for Democracy chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi casts a vote in Rangoon’s Bahan Township on Sunday. (Photo: Hein Htet / The Irrawaddy)
National League for Democracy chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi casts a vote in Rangoon’s Bahan Township on Sunday. (Photo: Hein Htet / The Irrawaddy)

9:15 am: In major cities such as Rangoon, Mandalay, the capital Naypyidaw, Moulmein and elsewhere, voters lined up in the pre-dawn hours to cast ballots for more than 90 political parties competing in Sunday’s poll. In Rangoon’s Sanchaung Township, a 40-year-old woman smiled when asked who she voted for. “You know it,” she said. “What is our favorite party in this country?” There are more than 33 million eligible voters nationwide, according to the Union Election Commission. —Reporting by Lawi Weng in Rangoon.


8:00 am: Welcome to The Irrawaddy’s live election coverage. Today, our team will bring you up to date coverage of the poll from our network of correspondents from around the country. Check back throughout the day for regular updates.