Civil Society Organizations responsible for organizing voter education activities and some political parties’ candidates have said that they expect only 20% of Karen voters in today’s election to vote correctly in the seven townships in Karen State.
Saw Kyaw Swar from the Karen State Community Network who worked on the voter education activities in Karen State told Karen News that, “all the voters will vote in the general election, but only 20% of them will vote correctly. There are barriers because of illiteracy and lack of voting experience.”
Saw Kyaw Swar said that people from the cities had an advantage over remote communities as they “could watch television about voting processes. As for the people from the small villages, many of them don’t have televisions and they could not even open the stamp properly.”
Saw Kyaw Swar said that in the previous elections, voters only need to tick the ballot, but now voters are supposed to stamp the ballot card and if it is stamped twice, it is an invalid vote.
Nan Say Awa, the current Member of Parliament for Hpa-an Constituency, representing the Plone – S’gaw Democratic Part, warned that, ” voters are not ready yet to cast the vote, but also the voter education can’t reach all areas – not more than half of the voter percentage will be able to vote correctly and accurately.”
Nan Say Awa said that “in my constituency there are a lot of farmers and agricultural workers who, due to lack of education, have language difficulties and illiteracy [will have problems understanding voting]. So, I am sure that those who can cast their votes correctly are not more than 50 percent.”
Saw Kyaw Poe, a villager from Pain Nae in Kawkareik told Karen News that villagers needed voter training to, “show us the voting process, but we have not had training. Certainly, most of the villagers did not know the process of voting and they could not vote properly in this election.”
Nga Phaung Yoe has just cast his vote at a Karen village polling station in Than Phyu Zayat Township of Mon State and told Karen News that “In our polling area there are lots of people who don’t know how to vote, there will be more invalid votes than valid.”
There are a total of 256 candidates fielded by 18 political parties and individuals with over 800,000 of eligible voters in Karen State. According to Union Election Commission’s records, elections will not be held in 94 out of 684 polling areas of village tracts due to security concerns.