July 05, 2017

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Ethnic minorities, women, migrants, disabled persons at risk of vote rejection

Votes may be rejected in the upcoming election due to the weakness of voter education programmes.

U Chan Nyein Aung, President-cum-CEO of Charity-Oriented Myanmar and party meet media. Photo: KTL
U Chan Nyein Aung, President-cum-CEO of Charity-Oriented Myanmar and party meet media. Photo: KTL

MANY people, including students, migrants and even returning officers, are in a position to lose their voting rights in the 8 November election, said U Chan Nyein Aung, President-cum-CEO of Charity-Oriented Myanmar (COM).
To promote inclusiveness of electoral process, COM, a Yangon-based civil service organisation, conducted a study from 1 September to 10 October this year and published its findings in a report yesterday.
The study is mainly focused on four groups—ethnic minorities, women, migrants and people with disabilities.
With the technical assistance of Democracy Reporting International (DRI), a total of 31 well-trained long-term observers from the organisation carried out the study in 28 townships in 11 regions, including Rakhine and Kachin states and the Naga Self-Administered Zone.
“According to the survey in the targeted areas, some townships see very few voter education activities, while some townships have none at all,”said U Chan Nyein Aung.
“The study points out that there is no voter education targeting ethnic [minority] groups,” he added.
“There may be many reject votes in the upcoming election due to the weakness of voter education programmes,” said U Aung Htike Min, external consultant for the COM.
Few ethnic minority individuals or women are members of township sub-election commissions, and there are no members with disabilities, the report says.
The targeted group faced problems such as errors in voter lists, language barriers, lack of information and security, lack of access to sub-commission offices and remote locations of sub-commission offices.
“Migrant workers in industrial zones face the most problems,” said U Aung Htike Min.
The COM will announce its preliminary election observation report on 11 November and the final report in December, with plans to monitor at over 450 polling stations in 48 townships and employing around 900 observers on the election day.

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