The National Election Committee yesterday gathered journalists and party representatives to witness the printing of about 25,000 ballots for the upcoming February 25 Senate election.
About ten officials from the NEC brought more than 20 journalists to watch the processing of ballots in Tuol Kork district’s Boeng Kak 1 commune.
Dim Sovannarom, the NEC’s spokesman, told reporters the NEC printed 25,950 ballots, including 5,300 reserved ballots.
“We spent 74 million riel, about $18,500, on ballot printing,” Mr Sovannarom said. “If any voters draw on ballots and the ballot is invalid, they have the right to ask to change the ballot and vote again”.
Mr Sovannarom explained that the ballot printing was done publically in a bid to ensure transparency.
“Based on the procedure of the election, we will send the ballots to polling stations 36 hours before the election,” Mr Sovannarom said.
Mr Sovannarom added that only the ruling CPP sent a representative to witness the ballot printing, despite invitation to all parties and also civil society organisations.
“We invited them but could not force them,” he said.
Senators are elected by votes cast by members of the National Assembly and commune councillors. There will be 33 polling stations around the country.
Four political parties have registered to contest the election, including the ruling CPP, the Cambodia Youth Party, the Khmer National United Party and the royalist Funcinpec party.
Sam Kuntheamy, head of election watchdog NGO, said he and his officials did not go to witness the ballot printing because he did not receive an invitation from the NEC.
“We congratulate the NEC for showing the ballot printing to reporters,” he said. “But we were disappointed not to be invited.”
Nhep Bunchin, spokesman for Funcipec party, also said his party would have sent an observer if it had been notified of the event.
There are 62 Senate seats to be filled, 58 elected by commune councillors, two appointed by the King and two by the National Assembly.
Of the nearly 12,000 commune councillors who can vote, more than 5,000 former opposition CNRP commune seats were recently reallocated by the NEC and the majority, 4,558, went to the ruling CPP following the opposition’s dissolution by the Supreme Court.