MANDALAY — Burma’s main opposition party on Wednesday warned of “phantom voters” on voter lists in Mandalay, the latest reports of errors in a process that has faced widespread criticism since the first batch of preliminary lists were released in March.
Representatives of the National League for Democracy (NLD) told reporters in Mandalay that, according to the party’s research, voter lists in at least two townships contained more names than the estimated total of eligible voters.
The party found that the number of voters in Maha Aung Myay Township as stipulated by the Union Election Commission (UEC) was just under 14,000, however, the number of eligible voters was estimated by the NLD at 8,725.
In some quarters of the township, around 50-60 percent of names listed were not eligible voters, according to Zarni Aung, a local parliament candidate for Maha Aung Myay.
The candidate said party members had made door-to-door visits in the township to cross-check the validity of voter lists.
“According to the residents, the excess persons are not living in their neighborhood; they no longer live in the area. Some are the names of deceased persons and people who turned to the monkhood,” he said.
The party found a similar situation in Amarapura Township. In Hman Tan quarter alone, more than 30 percent of voters listed were not present in the constituency, according to the NLD.
The party also noted that the errors were found in townships where notable ruling party figures were contesting the Nov. 8 poll.
“Maha Aung Myay is where Aung Maung, the current mayor of Mandalay, will compete in the election,” said Dr Zaw Myint Maung, a local parliament candidate for the NLD in Amarapura Township. Aung Maung is running on the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) ticket.
Zaw Myint Maung also claimed that blank slips, which should contain voters’ information and be presented by voters on polling day, had been prematurely issued in Mandalay.
“We have to question why. According to the law, these tickets must have voters information filled out and bear UEC [Union Election Commission] stamps. And they should only be distributed just before election day,” he said.
The NLD candidates said they had submitted their complaints to the Union Election Commission and to their party’s leadership.
The UEC said Tuesday that it would release its final list of eligible voters on Nov. 2, leaving just a few more days for voters and concerned third parties to check the accuracy of lists and apply for any last-minute changes.
Civil society groups and political parties have raised serious concerns about the process of voter registration and verification over several months, with ongoing reports of widespread errors.
The NLD’s office in Rangoon directed its party members on Tuesday to check for errors on the rosters as soon as possible. Party representatives in Mandalay told journalists on Wednesday they faced a race against time to seek resolution.
“According to our central office, the UEC has said that we have to submit a form with the exact names of the excess voters… We need the cooperation of sub-commissions as well as from locals,” Zaw Myint Maung said.