Saturday, August 24, 2013

Fraud, Irregularities, and Intimidation During the 2013 National Assembly Elections

On July 28, 2013, Cambodians went to the polls in the millions, eager to cast ballots in the country’s hotly contested National Assembly elections. Many of them, however, were improperly turned away. Observers, who were certified by the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (NICFEC), also documented other worrisome irregularities, some indicating the use of fraud and vote rigging. As a result of these findings, which are described in this report, LICADHO supports calls for a genuine independent investigation and a polling station level recount with independent observers before the results are finalized.

This report compiles key observations from 173 staff and partners who visited over 100 polling stations. There are 19,009 polling stations in Cambodia. As such, this report is not intended to be a comprehensive analysis of election day irregularities, but instead offers a snapshot revealing the need for further investigation.
Overall, observers witnessed serious discrepancies in an alarming percentage of the stations visited. The issues can be grouped into three main areas: voter roll irregularities, including inexplicably missing names and similar denials of the right to vote; indications of intentional fraud or vote rigging; and intimidation or harassment.

In most stations visited, LICADHO observers spoke with individuals who had verified their registration prior to the election day, only to find their names missing from the voter rolls upon arrival at their polling station. Similarly, several individuals were turned away after being told that someone else had already voted in their name – often the earlier voter had used a commune chief-awarded identity certificate in lieu of a photo ID. Would-be voters were also denied their right to vote on improper bases, such as their failure to bring their voter information slip to the polls.

Perhaps more alarmingly, LICADHO observers determined that voter rolls at several of the polling stations visited had been intentionally manipulated. In one, LICADHO observers spoke with individuals who freely admitted that they were part of a large group that had been brought to the commune to vote by their employer, despite the fact that they had not resided or registered in that commune. LICADHO also observed groups of well-dressed individuals arriving at certain stations in convoys of luxury cars. In those instances, local residents approached LICADHO observers stating that the individuals were not from the commune in question. Finally, in Siem Reap, LICADHO observers saw mobile military units arriving to vote in new polling stations – the units had travelled from Oddar Meanchey and Preah Vihear and slept in nearby pagodas before arriving at the special stations to vote. All of these case studies are described in detail below.

LICADHO also observed numerous instances of disturbing intimidation. In some instances, observers heard from residents who felt intimidated by the presence of party officials and local authorities inside the polling stations. On occasion, those officials were witnessed taking notes on who had voted. In Kampong Cham, LICADHO’s observer himself was questioned at length the night before the election. LICADHO observers also witnessed crowds at certain polling stations who were barring individuals from voting based on their apparent ethnicity. Such discrimination also clearly merits further investigation.

Although LICADHO was only able to visit a small number of stations, relatively speaking, and was unable to monitor stations for the entire duration of the Election Day, the below observations unequivocally demonstrate the need for further in-depth investigations and additional procedures before the vote results can be finalized.

Please download this report by clicking here
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