Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Voter lists to go on display first two weeks of February

Voter lists for the 2017 by-election will be posted for public scrutiny from February 1 to 14, the Union Election Commission has announced. Voters are asked to double check their inclusion on the list, as well as the correct spelling of their name and address, at their local election commission branch office.

“The voters are encouraged to check the lists during those dates and contribute to the election process by making the necessary requests, complaints and corrections,” the UEC said in an October 28 statement.

The voter lists will be collected during a one-month period starting from November 1. The UEC is basing the catalogue on the names included in the 2015 general election. Updates will be made with officials going door-to-door in the constituencies taking part in the upcoming by-election.

“We will make corrections to the voter lists used in the previous election,” U Kaung Myat Hein Thu, deputy director of the UEC, told The Myanmar Times on October 25.

The voter lists were a contentious part of the previous election, with the National League for Democracy at one point suggesting the historic poll be postponed pending a large number of corrections. The NLD had released an open letter to the UEC saying voter lists that went on display in the second phase of the electoral roll project featured error rates ranging from 30 to 80 percent.

At an October 26 meeting with seven ministries in Nay Pyi Taw, the UEC requested assistance in ensuring the elections are held freely and fairly.

“Although the 2015 general election was successfully held, there were some weaknesses, as well as strengths. Regarding the voter lists, even though there was no major problem, there were issues with errors, so this time complete and correct voter lists will be assured,” U Hla Thein told the participants during the meeting.

The UEC has asked the foreign ministry to assist in the arrangement of early voting for those voters who will be outside of Myanmar on the poll date of April 1, 2017.

The UEC also stated in the meeting that they will use the same polling stations as the November 2015 election. As most of the stations were in basic education schools, the Ministry of Education has been asked to coordinate station arrangement.

“School teachers from the education department will be asked to head and staff the polling station at the relevant school,” the UEC chair said during the October 26 meeting.

Candidates hoping to contest one of the races must register with the UEC between November 28 and December 7. The UEC will release final candidate lists on January 2 and the campaign period will run two months, from the end of January until the end of March.

In total, nine seats are available in the Pyithu Hluttaw, three seats in the Amyotha Hluttaw, and seven seats in the state and region legislatures. Those constituencies are currently lacking legislative representation.

The two major political parties, the NLD and Union and Solidarity Development Party (USDP), are confirmed to take part in the race for all the vacant seats.