RANGOON — Burma’s Union Election Commission (UEC) on Friday deflected responsibility for flaws in the nation’s voter lists, claiming that political parties should have done more to resolve inaccuracies in advance of a nationwide general election to be held on Sunday.
A notice released by the commission late Thursday accused political parties of “criticizing and blaming [the UEC for] inaccurate voter lists during voter display and [they] could not persuade voters to collaborate to get accurate voter lists.”
The statement later referred to “a big party” as the primary source of criticism, a likely reference to the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD).
The statement also said the commission gave voters adequate opportunities to check the lists and resolve outstanding issues, suggesting that any inaccuracies on the final roster were beyond the scope of its responsibility.
The UEC could not be reached for comment on Friday, two days before the landmark poll.
A spokesperson for the NLD told The Irrawaddy on Friday that the party had undertaken major efforts to mobilize complainants and inform them of correction procedures.
“This is not an adequate explanation,” spokesperson Nan Khin Htwe Myint told The Irrawaddy. “They just blame others—they should do their job.”
The NLD has been the most vocal critic of the commission’s handling of voter lists, and just last week issued a directive to its campaign teams to uncover “phantom voters” that seemed to appear on rosters in constituencies where senior government officials were running for re-election.
Voter lists have been the focus of intense scrutiny in the run-up to the poll, as flawed rosters were among the main criticisms of Burma’s last general election in 2010, which was broadly dismissed as fraudulent.
Since the initial rollout of voter list displays earlier this year, the UEC has offered various explanations for discrepancies, most recently attributing errors to software provided by international technical support teams.
A recent report by the Carter Center, which operates an election observation mission in Burma, downplayed the significance of voter list errors. The Oct. 27 report said that while the lists remain a subject of public criticism, “many of the specific complaints about errors appear to be unsubstantiated.”
The center added, however, that “[t]he impact of voter list issues remains to be seen.”