Oct. 10 Deadline for Internal Migrants to Arrange Vote

By San Yamin Aung 13 July 2015

RANGOON — Migrant voters who have lived in a given constituency for at least six months but are not enumerated there as eligible voters must register with local election officials by Oct. 10 if they will not return to their native constituency to cast a ballot in Burma’s upcoming general election.

The Union Election Commission (UEC) announced the deadline on Friday, in recognition of what is believed to be a large population of internal migrant workers in Burma, many of whom are not likely to have updated the household registration certificates that were used to compile voter lists.

Rangoon’s election subcommission chairman Ko Ko estimated last month that up to 100,000 people in the city were not enumerated in the preliminary voter lists for this reason. The lists have been publically posted in four batches beginning in March, with election officials facing criticism over reports that errors on the lists are widespread.

Than Htay, director of The Serenity Initiative (TSI), a civil society group that is assisting with voter education, said there were many internal migrants in areas where small-scale mining and artisan oil drilling take place, such as Hpakant in Kachin State and Mandalay Division, as well as in Rangoon, where job opportunities in the commercial capital draw migrant laborers.

“The UEC has previously said that they will have separate lists for temporary residents who have been living at least 180 days when they announce the nationwide voter lists. But we need to wait and see on that,” he said.

The UEC said temporary residents need to submit the application form 3(a) to their ward or village subcommissions after receiving the endorsement of their local ward administrator. Subcommissions will register migrants’ names on the list of the township in which they are temporarily resident if they are eligible to vote, and will instruct the native township’s subcommission to remove their name, the UEC said.

With the announcement of voter lists nationwide next month, voters will have 14 days to file any additional corrections and ward subcommissions are required to respond within seven days, indicating whether the complaint has been validated or not.

Than Htay said another task for local subcommissions was to strip out the names of voters born between Nov. 9-30, 1997, since voter lists were compiled before the election date was announced and include anyone who turns 18 before Dec. 1.

“Numerous inaccuracies have been found in the preliminary voter lists so they have to correct those lists and another problem is that they have to remove those who won’t reach 18 years old from November 9 to November 30 from the lists. So, I think it is impossible to get the complete and accurate voter lists with the remaining period,” he added.

The UEC announced on Wednesday that the country’s landmark general election would be held on Nov. 8.