Forty-eight village voter lists that were checked by the National League for Democracy are no longer there due to flooding and this spells trouble for voter transparency.
NLD Youth Leader Thant Wai Kyaw, who has responsibility for checking village voter lists in the area, raised concerns with Mizzima saying that all the work they have conducted has gone to waste.
“75% of the voting list was wrong, so now after the flood 100% of it will be ruined. If it is to continue like this there will not be free and fair election,” said Thant Wai Kyaw.
“I'm not sure about how many people can vote now, around 48 to 50 villages have been affected.”
Nine wards in downtown Kalaymyo has seen around 12,000 refugees converge on the schools and religious temples for shelter, while the 156 villages surrounding Kalaymyo's east has been tallied to be around 20,000 people. Some remain in higher ground far from aid and assistance.
The Department of Immigration have teams working in eight refugee camps in downtown Kalaymyo, to collect their information in order to assign them new citizenship cards. But Thant Wai Kyaw is worried that the effort isn’t effective enough.
“The victims in Chin are suffering the same from the heavy rains, all offices are helpless, NLD offices in non-affected areas are assisting the NLD offices in affected areas to help distribute aid and offer donations,” said Thant Wai Kyaw.
The Union Election Commission extended the nominee registration deadline by a week on Monday, a move broadly welcomed by political parties. Due to the flooding, many candidates have no access to transportation; even with floodwaters beginning to subside in some areas, the 8 August cut off would have seen large numbers of candidates unable to register.
Prompting several political parties to call for the government to extend the deadline. Candidates now have until Saturday 14August to register for the November election.
The UEC issued a press release this week saying they are in the process of “correcting errors” in voter lists and that those who've already registered and lost identity cards in the flooding will still be eligible to vote. Voter identification cards will be issued to those who've lost necessary documents a week before the election. The UEC says they will announce the finalisation of voter lists by the end of August.
“For the flood victims, their information is already included in the voter lists which was released four times in the past...
We cannot extend the period for the flood victims because we have to abide by the law that has been set… there will be no more mistakes in the voter list, even if they've lost their citizen cards or family registration documents in the flood,” said Union Election Commission Member, U Win Ko.
U Maung Maung Than from the Immigration and National Identification Issuing Department said refugees who previously enrolled to vote and gave correct information will have that information confirmed again and then will be immediately issued replacement documents.
This process is already underway in Kalaymyo Township in Sagaing Region and Pwint Phyu Township in Magwe as well as other places where the floodwaters have receded.
“We can't do it in places where the floods are still severe but, we are starting the process in the places the water has decreased. There hasn’t been an issue with re-issuing citizenship cards to the flood victims,” said U Maung Maung Than.
Additional writing: Connor Macdonald, Additional Reporting: EiEi San.