Wed 30 Apr 2008
Filed under: Inside Burma,News
Advance voting for the constitutional referendum began this week in Myawaddy Township, Karen State, amid allegations that some voters were issued ballots that had already been ticked “Yes” by polling station staff, according to sources in Karen State.
A worker from Myawaddy Township said that the authorities had already prepared ballot papers with a âˆš already marked in the square on the ballot where voters are asked to mark a âˆš for “Yes” or a X for “No” to the junta’s draft constitution.
“I was given the ballot already marked-my duty was just to put it in the ballot box,” he said.
According to a local resident, advance voting began on Monday for five wards in Myawaddy Township, near the Thai-Burmese border. Polling stations are being overseen by staff from the Ward/Village Peace and Development Council, he said.
A vendor who lives in Ward 3 in Myawaddy said that all the people who were invited to vote in advance were in possession of temporary identity cards.
“I was asked to vote in advance by our ward’s authorities, but when I went to the polling station to cast my vote I couldn’t, because the ballot papers had run out,” she said.
“Thousands of people have already voted,” she added, noting that the advance voting was due to continue until May 8.
Advance voting is a process whereby the voter can cast their vote on a single day or a series of days prior to an election. Advance voting often takes place by mail and is usually facilitated to allow people who live abroad to vote.
Meanwhile, government ministries are compiling lists of their respective civil servants and their family members who are eligible to vote with instructions that they must vote “Yes,” according to a family member of an official from the Ministry of Transport.
“Each civil servant and their family members have to vote ‘Yes.’ If they fail to go to the polling station or if they vote ‘No,’ their official position will be affected,” she said, adding that civil servants were to vote at separate polling stations from other voters.
According to a source close to the Ministry of Home Affairs, the ministry authorities have been collecting signatures from members of the police force that pledge them to vote “Yes” in the constitutional referendum.
Meanwhile, the Burmese Ministry of Information has instructed all Rangoon-based weekly journals to publish the government-backed “Vote Yes!” campaign logo on their respective journals’ back pages in full color, said a publisher in Rangoon.
The Burmese government has not yet revealed the registers of eligible voters in each township sub-commission, nor has it announced the locations of polling stations.