The National Election Committee (NEC) is confronting challenges this week regarding new voter registration, paying particularly close attention to problems arising from the dissemination of new voter ID cards and allowing better access to monks who wish to obtain them. In an internal meeting yesterday, NEC spokesman Hang Puthea said that one of the problems with the voter ID cards is that obtaining one takes too much time. The NEC plans to continue discussions with the Interior Ministry in order to come up with solutions to that problem, such as allowing birth certificates to stand in for the cards. “We need solutions because people that have old ID cards will see them expire in 2018,” Mr. Puthea said. “They won’t be able to use them to register to vote. We will continue to talk with the ministry about the people who don’t have ID cards. They should use their birth certificates.”
In the case of monks trying to register to vote, Cambodia has a fraught history. Currently, bureaucratic hurdles such as the need for identifiable hair to obtain a government ID card, which are themselves required for voters in the country, stand in their way.
One recently proposed stand-in for an ID card is a birth certificate plus some sort of documentation regarding the monk’s status. Such an accommodation could break new ground in the decades-long struggle over equal voting rights for the group, which legally began in 1993 when those in the monkhood were granted suffrage by the government.