Myanmar Military's Advance Votes Discounted for Violating Electoral Law
By Nan Lwin 23 October 2020
YANGON — A township election commission in Yangon has decided not to count advance votes from military personnel after receiving complaints that the ballot papers were in unsealed envelopes in violation of election laws.
U Khin Maung Win, the chair of Yangon’s western district election commission, confirmed the Dagon Township commission’s decision to The Irrawaddy.
He said the township officials found 58 voting envelopes from personnel of 905 Company of General Engineers were unsealed.
Article 60 of the Election Law states that military personnel and their relatives can vote in advance when outside their constituencies. It says a ballot must be inside a sealed envelope.
U Khin Maung Win said the law says everyone has the right to vote in secret without revealing who they will vote for.
He said: “We won’t be interfering with the township’s decision. It has full authority to decide. But we will ask the Union Election Commission to review the case to avoid this happening again.
“The final decision whether the votes will be counted will be made on election day,” U Khin Maung Win added.
In 2015, parties claimed that all of the advance votes from military bases were in favour of the military’s proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).
The National League for Democracy (NLD) has won a landslide in the 2015 general election and secured enough seats to choose the president and form a government in coalition with the military. However, the USDP won a majority in Shan State where large numbers of troops are deployed. It also defeated the popular Shan Nationalities League for Democracy.
The NLD’s Upper House candidate for Dagon Township, U Ba Myo Thein, told The Irrawaddy that candidates will check the advance voting carefully.
“If we found out one or two unsealed envelopes, we can understand that they were not sealed correctly. But we found 58 unsealed papers. That is totally strange,” U Ba Myo Thein said.
“I think that there is something terribly wrong. We won’t let that happen again. If it is happening again, we will keep complaining.”
There are more than 10,000 military personnel listed to vote in advance in the western district of Yangon in the November general election.
In February, the NLD passed a law ensuring military personnel and their relatives will vote at civilian polling stations. It is hoped that personnel will feel free to vote for their chosen candidates when away from the watchful eyes of their superiors.
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