Household visits planned to check voter lists for by-elections

NAY PYI TAW — The Union Election Commission plans to conduct household visits ahead of the April 1 by-elections to ensure that voter lists are up to date, UEC chairman U Hla Thein said after meeting representatives of political parties in Nay Pyi Taw on October 24.

“We’ll meet the head of each family to see if we need to make adjustments and the result will be lists that are more accurate,” Hla Thein told journalists at a news conference after the meeting to brief political parties about preparations for the by-elections.

The by-elections will fill 19 vacancies in the nation’s hluttaws: nine in the Pyithu Hluttaw, three in the Amyotha Hluttaw and six in the state and regional assemblies, including five in Shan State.

Hla Thein said he had asked political parties to contribute towards ensuring that voting lists were accurate and also said the UEC planned to enlist the help of civil society groups for voter education activities.

UEC director general U Tin Tun told Frontier on the sidelines of the news conference that a concerted effort had been made to achieve smoother advance voting arrangements for the estimated two million Myanmar citizens living abroad, most of whom are migrant workers in Thailand.

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“We believe that pre-voting will be more convenient than at the 2015 election,” said Tin Tun.

Advance voting arrangements for citizens living overseas was in the news ahead of last year’s general election when voters had queued over four days to cast ballots at an overwhelmed Myanmar embassy in Singapore.

Advance voting in the by-elections for citizens abroad will take place from November 15 to December 5.

A timetable for the by-elections issued by the UEC on October 18 also stipulates that prospective candidates’ names must be submitted between November 28 and December 7. The candidates’ list will be announced on January 2 and the campaigning period has been set for January 30 to March 30.

The ruling National League for Democracy and the opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party have said they will field candidates in each constituency.

Intense campaigning in expected in Shan State where vacancies will also be contested by the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, which has the second biggest share of seats of political parties represented in the state hluttaw, after the USDP.

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