The National Election Committee has reaffirmed its commitment to making sure July’s general election is free and fair.
The NEC yesterday held a public consultation on regulations and procedures for the polls, intended to help ensure effectiveness and transparency.
NEC chairman Sik Bunhok told reporters after the meeting that the NEC has two main aims this year – to compile an accurate voter list and make sure ballot counting is fair and transparent.
“I have only two big purposes. First to ensure the voter list includes all those who are eligible to vote and that their names are listed correctly,” Mr Bunhok said.
“Second, that the ballot counting is fair and that people vote according to their own free will.”
He added that the NEC achieved those aims in the 2017 commune elections, so it should be no problem to do the same for the July 29 general election.
Mr Bunhok said the NEC now has 20 years’ experience in holding elections and has gradually improved its work over 13 polls, from commune to national level. Sam Kuntheamy, executive director at the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, praised the NEC for conducting public consultations.
“We have seen the NEC develop its operations since the last general election in 2013,” Mr Kuntheamy said.
However, he expressed concern that the NEC might not heed his organisation’s recommendation to print fewer reserve ballots.
The NEC currently prints about 20 percent more ballot papers than required, but Mr Kuntheamy said only five percent extra were needed.
“When they print lots of reserve ballot papers, we are worried about cheating,” he said.
The NEC has received recommendations to improve the way it conducts polls from 20 institutions including the Constitutional Council, the Senate, the Interior Ministry, the Justice Ministry, political parties, embassies and relevant NGOs.
“We are considering the recommendations of relevant stakeholders. The NEC has never denied any suggestions that would help make elections fairer and more transparent,” Mr Bunhok said.
When asked if the dissolution of the opposition CNRP could lead to low voter turnout this year, he said: “I can’t say, but people should not abandon their right to elect a leader. They will regret it if they do not vote.”