Cambodia’s new voter registration system will use a computer program to register eligible citizens who have a national identity card and are over the age of 18 before election day, according to a National Election Committee (NEC) technical officer at a media training event on Friday.
Tob Rethy, head of the department of voter database management and NEC voter lists, explained the registration process and addressed reporters’ security concerns.
“The names of villages, communes, districts, provinces, capitals and other important details are already included in the program, meaning program users are not allowed to write or add more villages or communes,” he said.
“We will use a 3G service to send the data to the server at the NEC head office in Phnom Penh. In case data cannot be sent through the Internet, the user can store it on a flash card or SD card, then send the data file to the NEC commune office for forwarding to the capital,” he said.
However, Mr. Rethy declined to reveal how the data would be protected, fearing it might give hackers the information they needed to launch an attack.
“The voting application cannot be installed on another computer besides the laptop given by the NEC, and the program will alert before it automatically shuts down when the number of registered voters reaches the maximum of 750 [per user account],” he added.
Nearly 20 kinds of electronic tools will be used in the registration process.
“A laptop, a power bank, a mouse, a monitor, a fingerprint scanner, a webcam, a camera stand, a modem and SIM card, a USB hub, a USB flash drive, a USB extension cable, an SD card, a gray background cloth, a generator, network cable, a switch, a bag, a zinc carrying case and an electrical outlet will be used,” he said while explaining their functions during a slideshow.
To register, a voter must have a Cambodian identity card even if it has expired and then appear before NEC officials, he added.
“By linking names to thumbprints, the new electronic voter registration system will prevent people from voting twice under one name, or voting under another person’s name. It will also prevent the “ghost voter” problem, where registered voters are found to be nonexistent,” he said.
Last year, the Japanese government, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency, sent a team of database experts to help the NEC prevent its voter registration database from being hacked by intruders.
Contacted by phone yesterday, NEC spokesman Hang Puthea said the European Union’s donation of electronic equipment had arrived.
“The electronic equipment included 2,400 HP notebooks, 2,425 computer monitors and various kinds of electronic equipment and has arrived.
Computers can build more trust compared with old methods using paper and pen to register,” he said.
However, Mr. Puthea predicted some challenges related to the rainy season which could prove difficult for the NEC teams.
“The main goal of electronic voter registration is to ensure that every Cambodian gets only one vote,” he emphasized, adding that a list of registered voters would be published for citizens to review and file any complaint after the registration deadline.
The teams will have to go to cities where they can connect to the internet to upload voter registration data to the NEC’s server due to a lack of Internet connectivity in rural areas, the spokesman added.
There are about 9.6 million eligible voters nationwide and the 90-day registration drive will start on September 1 and run until November 29, running seven days a week at nearly 20,000 voter registration offices utilizing approximately 7,000 NEC staff members.
NEC staff counting votes in 2013. KT/ Chor Sokunthe