Burma’s Union Election Commission (UEC) has begun compiling new voter lists for the 2015 general election, after this year’s census uncovered a gaping discrepancy in the actual versus the predicted number of people in the country.
The March census tallied 51.4 million people within Burma, as opposed to 60 million, an officially held figure that had been cobbled together by projected birth rates and disparate demographic studies.
On Monday, the UEC set about calculating how many people are now eligible to vote. The commission believes it will take eight months for it to construct a new list, set to be very different from the one used as recently as the 2012 by-elections.
“Household lists will be collected from all villages and quarters, and population lists will be gathered from local administration offices, said Thaung Hlaing, a spokesperson for the UEC.
“We will then use this information to compile a list of all people over the age of 18. Thereafter, we will remove voters who are not eligible to vote under election laws.”
Religious figures, including monks, are counted out from voting in Burma, as are prisoners and those who remain on bankruptcy lists.
The UEC reckoned there to be a 22 million strong turnout for the previous general election, held in 2010. According to government records, 29 million people were eligible for that vote, which was boycotted by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD).
Legal expert Ko Ni believes that the 2010 election was irreconcilably flawed by spurious voter listings.
“In the last election there were many errors; for instance, the voter lists included some dead people,” he said.
Ko Ni believes that 2010’s listing problems were repeated in the 2012 by-election. That poll saw the NLD elevated into both houses of Burma’s parliament.
“The 2010 election lists were very ugly. The same lists were used again in the 2012 bi-elections and we discovered that they contained many errors. There were many weaknesses in the commission’s methodology of compiling voter lists at the local level, but nobody took responsibility,” said Ko Ni.
The commission has stated that next year’s vote will take place in late October or early November.