Election 2020

Myanmar Voting Goes Smoothly, Election Monitor Group Says

By Nan Lwin 8 November 2020

YANGON—Myanmar’s largest election observer group offered a positive assessment following its preliminary observations of polling stations across the country, including its evaluation of COVID-19 prevention measures and observers’ timely access to polling stations. It also reported no major incidents so far.

On Sunday afternoon, with just an hour left for voters to cast their ballots in the general election, People’s Alliance for Credible Elections (PACE) executive director Sai Ye Kyaw Swar Myint said, “We would like to highlight the efforts of polling station officials and sub-commissions to open polling stations on time and to implement COVID-19 prevention measures.

“At the same time, we want to emphasize that it is important to make sure that all polling station officials follow the UEC’s guidelines and procedures for the remainder of the process, including voting and counting,” Sai Ye Kyaw Swar Myint said, referring to the Union Election Commission.

PACE said that at the time of opening, 99 percent of polling stations had all the necessary materials. Despite the COVID-19 measures, 84 percent of stations began voting at between 6:00 a.m. and 6:30 a.m.

Opening time at Myanmar’s polling station across the country was 6:00 a.m.

PACE said 94 percent of the polling stations were displaying COVID-19 prevention guidelines publicly, and 98 percent were providing hand sanitizing gel. Moreover, it found that 93 percent were providing masks, 87 percent were conducting temperature tests, 84 percent were displaying marks on the floor to encourage social distancing and 23 percent were providing gloves.

The observer group said that only a few polling stations (7 percent) had separate rooms or space for voters who might have COVID-19 symptoms.

PACE said 95 percent of observers were permitted to enter polling stations when they opened at 6 a.m. However, 5 percent were initially prevented by polling station officers, who incorrectly asked for additional permission from the township sub-commissions. It said that most of those observers were able to gain access to the polling stations later.

A total of 93 percent of advance ballots boxes were delivered before stations opened, as required by election regulations, PACE said. At 7 percent of polling stations, observers reported that they did not see advance ballot boxes being delivered before voting began, it said.

Two-thirds of polling station officers (66 percent) are women and less than a third (27 percent) of wheelchair users were able to access polling stations. Only a small number (13 percent) of polling stations were wheelchair-accessible, PACE said.

PACE deployed 1,888 short-term-observers to polling stations in all of Myanmar’s states and regions to observe the election, according to the group.

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