Candidates and voters said a major reason for the electoral roll problems in the April 1 by-elections was that, unlike in 2010, the election commission did not distribute voter slips.
The slips include the name of the voter, their voting number, father’s name and voting station number and were handed out in 2010 to make it easier for people when they visited polling stations.
U Zaw Win, the campaign manager for the National League for Democracy in Mandalay Region, said the parties had to prepare the voters slips themselves in a short period.
“It’s very tiring to write down the names of more than 130,000 voters and give the slip to them at their homes. The commission gave the slip in one ward but they took them back later so we urgently made the slips. We had to finish it within three days,” he said.
Without the slips, U Zaw Win said there would be some delays at voting stations, which had to cater for about 2000 voters between 6am and 4pm.
“The slips are very useful. Without it there can be many difficulties and it will take a long time to search people’s names in the voter lists,” he said.
Of the eight candidates in Maha Aung Myay, only the NLD and the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) handed out the voter slips.
USDP candidate U Than Tun told The Myanmar Times that the commission decided not to give voter slips because of complaints of impartiality in 2010.
“In 2010, with the permission of the regional commission, the ward commissions gave voter numbers. This year, they didn’t do it because there were some complaints that the commission members were campaigning while giving out voter slips,” he said.
He said the by-election system gave the parties an opportunity to reach every single voter. “People feel more confident if more than one party can do it. I suppose that this is an opportunity for us because we can canvass while we are giving them the slip. It’s a way of grabbing people’s attention,” he said.
An election commission member from Maha Myaing 1 ward said they had prepared voter slips but the regional commission had instructed them not to distribute them because of complaints from the 2010 election.
One voter from Maha Myaing 1 ward said he didn’t get a voter slip from any party and experienced some delays as a result.
“I had to search my name on the lists pasted on the walls. Though the commission prepared some people to help search through the names, it took a long time because it was crowded,” he said.