August 19, 2016

Yangon abuzz with voters’ enthusisam

Officials count votes at a polling station in Tamway Township.  Photo: Aye Min Soe
Officials count votes at a polling station in Tamway Township. Photo: Aye Min Soe

The general election kicked off at 6 am yesterday, with long lines forming outside polling stations around Yangon Region hours before the official opening time.
Traffic congestion around the city was conspicuously light.
Among the voters was Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy, who cast her vote at a polling station in Bahan Township. Local and foreign journalists and observers crowded into the compound as she arrived.
Yangon Region Chief Minister U Myint Swe voted at polling station No. 1 on Khayaymyaing Road in Thingangyun Township yesterday morning.
Two auxiliary election police were deployed to each polling station for additional security, and police patrolled the city throughout the day.
Yangon Region had 5,495 polling stations and more than five million eligible voters.
Three polling stations were set up in Kyimyindine, Sangyoung and Mayangon townships to accommodate voters who are visually impaired.
Voters at some polling stations experienced delays as the polling stations were inundated by high voter turnouts across the board.
Ma Yin Nyein, a lawyer from No. 2 Ward in Mayangon Township, said she waited for hours outside the polling station.
Some polling stations in Kyauktan Township attracted about 1,600 voters each, but eachhad 11volunteers on site to handle the process, according an observer who spoke to The Global New Light of Myanmaron the condition of anonymity.
The observer also said polling stations in neighbourhoods populated by day-labourers were crowded, within voters being forced to spend hours in the sun, while polling stations in wealthy areas attracted far fewer voters.
“I observed that rich people are not interested in voting. Day-labourers and lower-class people are more afraid of losing their voting rights than rich people,” he said.
The similarities between logos of different political parties confused some voters while they cast their votes due to the weakness of voter education, said Ko Maung Maung, a voter from South Dagon Township.
A few people were not included in the voter lists in Mayangon Township, according to the township’s election commission.
“Not too many—only about four to six per ward were not found on the voter lists,” said U Win Maw, the chairman of the Mayangon Township election sub-commission.
Elderly and disabled people also voted at the polling stations on election day, even though they wereeligible to cast advance votes before the election.
“The election is free. I voted for the party I love. But I had to wait more than one hour outside the polling station,” said U Maung Maung from Mayangon Township.


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