March 31, 2021

NEC pilot elections on May 23 employ tech to test system’s accuracy

A man casts his ballot during the national elections in 2018​ in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district. Post Staff Heng Chivoan

Nov Sivutha | The Phnom Penh Post
Publication date 30 March 2021 | 22:26 ICT

The National Election Committee (NEC) plans to hold a pilot election on May 23 to test the accuracy of registered political parties, candidate and voter lists, and vote counting using information technology. The election is in preparation for the upcoming commune and national elections set to take place in 2022 and 2023 respectively.

NEC deputy secretary-general Som Sorida told The Post on March 30 that NEC had designated 50 electoral offices across the country, with two commune electoral offices chosen from the capital and provinces.

“NEC will record the names of citizens registered in these communes to make a draft list. In the coming elections, NEC will enter voting data into a computer system and let computers process the results from the commune level to NEC,” he said.

The purpose of the election, he noted, was to use information technology to register political parties and a list of candidates who stand for election. This means the next elections would not be manual as in previous ones. In the next elections, he said the results would be checked and tallied through a computerised system.

He said with the pilot election, NEC also wanted to see the efficiency of a round stamp with a check mark instead of pens as the primary means voters use to mark ballot papers. This is to avoid ticking which prompted complaints in the past.

He said the pilot election is also a test on how elections could be organised amid Covid-19 crisis. He expected the pandemic could be prolonged until the commune and national elections in 2022 and 2023.

“This is good in the context of Covid-19. We observed the Indian elections in 2020 when it was held during the pandemic. The experience we received from the elections will provide information on how we hold elections and precautionary measures needed in electoral offices,” he said, adding that the government had no plan to delay the 2022 commune elections.

Cambodian Youth Party president Pich Sros said he had not yet received information on this pilot election.

“This is a good thing that NEC will hold this pilot election to keep up with the current situation and the digital age. If possible, we should do it because it is better and no one can cheat. We would be ready to participate in this election,” he said.

Korn Savang, the survey and advocacy coordinator at the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, welcomed the move.

“NEC should be open to participation, discussion and public opinion. It should collect inputs from relevant stakeholders more widely so that the election process has more credibility,” he said.

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