Yangon, March 31 For Immediate Release
In preparation for the April 1 by-elections, since January 26 the People’s Alliance for Credible Elections (PACE) has assessed the quality of key aspects of the pre-election period. PACE complemented its observation of the display of the voter list with a survey of citizens’ opinions of the voter list and the voter registration process, including the door-to-door update the UEC conducted last November. PACE also has been monitoring the conduct of political campaigns in all 22 townships holding by-elections, and is currently observing the in-advance voting process in a random sample of wards and village tracts throughout the by-election area.
PACE’s observers have been allowed to observe these key aspects of the pre-election process. We wish to thank election authorities at all levels, political parties and candidates, and ordinary citizens who provided PACE with valuable information on the quality of these elections.
Generally, PACE observers have reported that the pre-election environment has been calm and that no major incidents have been observed. Additionally, PACE has not observed any instances of intimidation or interference in the processes it has monitored. PACE found that public awareness of, and engagement in, the upcoming by-elections were low. PACE recognizes the efforts of all stakeholders — the Union Election Commission (UEC), local CSOs, international NGOs and political parties — to reach out to more voters and raise awareness of the by-elections.
Sai Ye Kyaw Swar Myint of PACE said, “We hope that, thanks to the efforts of all stakeholders, the awareness of the by-election has increased and citizens will come out to vote on election day.”
During the survey conducted in January, PACE found that the public awareness of the by-elections and the voter display process was low, especially in the more rural areas. Moreover, PACE found that the intention to vote was lower than it was during the 2015 general elections.
PACE also found that very few people came to the ward and village tract election commissions to check their names during the first display of the voter list in February, and that only small numbers of people submitted forms to make changes to the list.
Even though there were fewer campaign activities during the first five weeks of the campaign period compared to the 2015 general elections, PACE observed increased activity during the last three weeks, especially by small parties and independent candidates. Overall, the tools most used by candidates to reach voters were distributing materials, rallies and posters. Nearly all rallies planned by candidates were approved by the election authorities without asking for changes to time or location.
Generally, PACE did not observe any major incidents during the pre-election period. PACE encourages all eligible citizens to vote on April 1, and asks stakeholders to contribute to a peaceful and fair election-day process.
On Election Day, PACE will be using Sample-based-Observation (SBO) methodology which has been used in more than 50 countries. Total 600 short-term-observers (STOs) will be deployed to the polling stations which were randomly selected and will be observing the opening, voting and closing, and counting. The methodology will allow PACE to be able to assess the quality of the election-day process objectively. PACE plans to release the preliminary findings approximately in the afternoon of April 2.
The People’s Alliance for Credible Elections (PACE) is an independent, non-partisan, non-government domestic election observer group based in Yangon. PACE was founded in 2013 to strengthen democratic institutions in Myanmar through safeguarding citizen rights and promoting public participation in the electoral process. To promote transparency, accountability and inclusiveness in the electoral process, PACE mainly works on election observation, electoral reform, and civic and voter education.
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