Election 2020

Myanmar’s Older Voters Cast Early Ballots

By San Yamin Aung 30 October 2020

YANGON — Myanmar’s voters aged over 60 started to cast their advance votes on Thursday for the Nov. 8 general election at polling stations or with mobile ballot boxes.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19, the Union Election Commission (UEC) has opened advance polling stations nationwide for older voters who are more vulnerable to COVID-19 until Nov. 5. For those who cannot go to polling stations because of health conditions, mobile ballot boxes are available.

U Aung Htike, Thingangyun Township administrator in Yangon Region, said arrangements had been made to allow advance voting in line with COVID-19 guidelines.

U Thein Nyunt, 79, from Thaketa Township in Yangon Region was enthusiastically waiting to vote on Thursday.

“I can die with a clear conscience now,” he told The Irrawaddy, after voting at his home. “I was worried that I might die before I cast my vote.”

According to observers, many older voters have been attending polling stations and casting their ballots at home. According to a 2019 survey by the Department of Population at the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population, Myanmar has 5.1 million over-60s, nearly 10 percent of the population.

Ma Hnin of Bago Region said her mother could vote from her home as the election officers collected the votes door-to-door with mobile ballot boxes.

“It is quite convenient for my mother. In the 2015 general election, she voted at the polling station on election day. But I wouldn’t allow her to do this time as I worry about COVID-19,” she said.

According to the UEC, people in quarantine centers, those stranded due to travel restrictions, civil servants who need to perform their duties outside their constituencies, citizens who have to travel on the day of the election, election candidates and their representatives are also eligible for advance voting.

Additional reporting by Aung Thiha

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