Last weekend Vietnam held general elections for its National Assembly (NA) and all levels of People’s Councils. Such elections are held every five years but this year’s elections were particularly significant because it was the first time the NA and People’s Councils were elected simultaneously.
… Electronic voting has not yet appeared in Vietnam and the ballots are still counted by hand, similar to the way I voted in the small town where I lived in the USA. While this method may take longer to count and ostensibly have greater potential for human error, it does avoid fiascos like the infamous “dangling chads” of the US 2000 presidential elections.
Voting in Vietnam is not compulsory under the law, as it is in Australia, yet the voter turnout was very impressive. According to the national media (in English and Vietnamese), out of the total population of about 86 million, more than 60 million eligible people cast their ballots, with many provinces, cities and towns reporting over 98 percent voter turnout, some even recorded 100 percent.
The Vietnamese go the “extra mile” to get people to vote. Mobile groups travel around the country providing information, advance elections are organised in remote areas, and election committees even go out to fishermen on commercial fishing boats that would be offshore on Election Day. On the actual day of the elections, local loudspeakers broadcast reminders for people to cast their ballots, accompanied by patriotic music to instill national spirit. In Hanoi, the polls were open from 7am to 7pm and there were polling stations almost every other block. Sometimes representatives from those stations would even make home visits to remind people to cast their ballots. One friend of mine said she was getting ready to go out in the morning, intending to cast her ballot on the way to an appointment, when a polling station representative paid her a visit to remind her to vote!