First Phase of National Voter List Preparation Near Completion: UEC

By San Yamin Aung 8 January 2015

RANGOON — Burma’s Union Election Commission (UEC) said on Thursday that, early next month, it planned to release a preliminary list of eligible voters in a handful of townships for this year’s general election.

The UEC began compiling a national voter list in November. Ten townships in Rangoon were part of the first phase of documentation, while 14 townships in Rangoon are included in the second phase.

“We expect to announce the results in the second week of February in places where we have finished,” UEC member Win Kyi told The Irrawaddy on Thursday. He said that in the first phase, compilation of the voter lists had finished in five townships in Rangoon and was continuing in another five townships.

Voter lists have been completed in Seikkan, Dagon, Latha, Kyauktada and Lanmadaw townships, an official from the Rangoon Division Election Commission Office, who requested anonymity, told The Irrawaddy.

The other five townships in the first phase would be completed this month, he said, while compilation of the voter lists for another 14 townships in Rangoon, which began on Dec. 29, is also continuing.

“Three months before the election, the complete voters list will be announced,” the official said. “Temporary residents who have been renting a house in a township not less than six months [but don’t have household registration in that area] will only be placed on the list upon the recommendation of ward administrators,” after the preliminary list has been compiled.

In November, UEC director Thaung Hlaing told The Irrawaddy that any citizen at least 18 years of age whose name appears on ward-level population lists and household registration lists would be included in the voter lists.

The Rangoon Division Election Commission official said that the lists were being prepared in advance of this year’s election to enable members of the public to file an appeal if they believe someone has been wrongfully included or excluded.

“We can’t know whether dead persons have been included or not since we are compiling the lists from each household registration. Dead persons’ names may be included if family members haven’t [removed] them from registration [lists],” he said. “So that’s why we are doing this in advance and will announce this preliminary list. It can only be done with public cooperation.”

The UEC chairman Tin Aye announced in October that the national election was scheduled to be held in either the last week of October or the first week of November this year.

Sai Ye Kyaw Swar Myint, executive director of the People’s Alliance for Credible Elections (PACE), said that after criticism of the voter lists for 2010 and 2012 polls, the UEC had now arranged to computerize the data, listing all eligible voters across the country on a central server in Naypyidaw.

“The intentions of the program are good. But we need to watch how ward and township administrators carry it out practically and how much they can coordinate,” Sai Ye Kyaw Swar Myint said.

“Since the election in 2010 was led by the military government, we couldn’t officially monitor it. But what is different now is that the UEC has changed their way of thinking,” he said. “They have talked to us and held meetings with us. But the important thing is how much… they will share information, and how far we can be involved.”