With a high turnout expected on April 1 and the government and election commission promising a free, fair and transparent poll, experts have urged voters to take greater care when casting their vote than in 2010, when large numbers were declared invalid. The number of lost or cancelled ballots ranged from 6.43pc for Amyotha Hluttaw constituencies to 7.4pc for State or Region Hluttaw constituencies, according to official figures. This was significantly lower than in 1990, when 12.3pc of votes were declared ineligible, but varied widely between constituencies; in the Pyithu Hluttaw seat of Hpakant, for example, 13,255 of 70,297 votes were invalid. “People are more interested in the April 1 by-elections than the previous election because NLD will be contesting most constituencies,” said Ko Nay Zaw Than, a businessman from Lanmadaw township who closely follows politics. “But it is important when voting that people fill out their forms correctly and also choose the best person to represent them, instead of focusing on a personality or party.”
In the lead up to the poll, parties have also urged voters to be careful when filling out their ballot form, and have in some cases distributed “how to vote” information. Foreign diplomats and government officials who have visited Myanmar recently have also encouraged the government to conduct more awareness raising activities to ensure the public knows how to vote.
State-run media also published articles on March 17 about invalid votes, urging readers to fill out their ballot forms correctly, while state television has broadcast short educational programs. State media also explained the advanced voting system and who is eligible to cast an advanced vote – another major issue in 2010. According to the Union Election Commission, there are several reasons for which a vote can be declared invalid. These include votes without a confirmation mark from the election commission, votes without the signature of the chief of the polling station, votes without any marks, votes with unclear marks, votes that the chief polling officer decided were false, votes that show the identity of the voter and torn votes.
However, former ballot officers said they expected fewer mistakes in the coming by-elections because voters would have more experience.
Full Article: Will invalid votes be a factor in election results?.