Election 2020

Myanmar Military Claims to Find Over 70,000 Irregularities on Voter Lists

By San Yamin Aung 24 December 2020

YANGON—Myanmar’s military said it found more than 70,000 voter list irregularities that could point to voter fraud in last month’s general election, during its scrutiny of voting in four townships where its proxy party suffered heavy defeats. Election sub-commissioners rejected the accusation as “exaggerated” and “absurd”.

After its proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) cried foul over the Nov. 8 general election, in which it suffered a humiliating defeat to the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD), the military (or Tatmadaw) on Nov. 30 launched a review of the electoral process in 218 townships where military personnel and their family members cast votes, to determine whether the election was conducted in accordance with the law.

Its move to review the electoral process has been widely criticized as “irrelevant” by election observers and lawyers, who accuse the military of improperly acting like a political party and interfering in the election. The Union Election Commission has also rejected as “unlawful” the military’s call for the agency to instruct its sub-commissions to provide copies of election-related documents, including voter lists, to facilitate its review of the vote.

Regardless, on Wednesday evening, the Tatmadaw True News Information Team said in a statement that the military had scrutinized voter lists in Aung Myay Tharzan, Yamethin, Pyawbwe and Tanai townships. The USDP lost 15 of 16 contested seats in those townships to the NLD.

The military said it found a total of 74,306 irregularities on voter lists, including multiple appearances by individuals, which could lead to a person voting more than once; and the inclusion of underage persons and non-National Registration Card (NRC) holders. It alleged those flaws could have led to vote rigging in those townships.

Aung Myay Tharzan Township election sub-commission chairman U Ko Ko Gyi rejected the military’s accusation of possible electoral fraud, and of repeat voting by a single person.

The military claimed one person appeared 440 times on voter lists in Aung Myay Tharzan, that 624 voters on the lists have the same NRC number, and that 4,046 non-NRC card holders were on the lists, along with other flaws, adding that all could lead to electoral fraud.

“There was no such instance of a person appearing 440 times on voter lists in our township, or of 624 voters having the same NRC number,” U Ko Ko Gyi said. He questioned the military’s source for the voter lists, saying their account was riddled with irrational errors. He added that the military didn’t seek copies of voters lists from the sub-commission.

Regarding the inclusion of non-NRC holders on the voter lists, he said that before the election, the UEC announced it would ensure all citizens were guaranteed their right to vote, including non-NRC holders. Those who are qualified to vote can use a variety of documents to prove their identity on voter lists, U Ko Ko Gyi said.

“It saddens me to hear accusations against those who do not have the NRC, that they could be dishonest and trying to rig votes,” he said.

U Ko Ko Gyi added that the polling station officers oversaw the election day transparently and carefully to prevent any election fraud, including repeat voting by individuals. He said voting was held in the presence of poll monitors and representatives of political parties including the USDP.

No political parties have reported electoral objections or complaints with the commission, he added.

Pyawbwe Township election sub-commission chairman U Soe Myint said the military asked the township commission to provide election-related documents but as it is unlawful to do so, the commission denied the request.

“We don’t know on which voter lists they based their accusations,” he said.

The military said it found 43,860 irregularities on voters lists in Pyawbwe Township that could have led to malpractice. U Soe Myint rejected the allegations as “exaggerated”.

He said the voter lists were compiled using lists from the General Administration Department and the Ministry of Labor, Immigration and Population, adding that election officials worked to correct all errors and inaccuracies by rolling out lists on two occasions prior to the election.

U Soe Myint added that far from the tens of thousands of accusations from the military, the commission was aware of two claims of repeat voting and two cases of underage voting, raised by political parties.

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