Karen State Records 200,000 More Voters Eligible for 2020 Elections – But More Villages Want the Right to Vote

Karen State has seen an increase of more than 200,000 eligible voters for the 2020 elections – around 25% more voters compared to the 2015 election according to the State Election Commission.

Karen State Election Commission data for the period between January 2019 to January 2020 showed the total of eligible voters registered as 1,100,000 – excluding eligible voters in the military.

Sa Kyaw Swa, vice chairperson of the Karen National Democratic Party (KNDP) in Kyainseikgyi Township told Karen News people in his area were excluded from the two previous elections.

“In the 2010 and 2015 elections there was no constituency and we didn’t have the right to vote. In the 2020 election I hope our villages will be counted by them [Election Commission].”

Sa Kyaw Swa said voter registrations were carried out through government assigned village administrations and as many villages in his areas do not have government administration structure he is concerned.

“There were many villages that don’t have government assigned administration chiefs. There needs to be discussions between the election commission and ethnic groups to make sure villagers have their rights to vote.”

According to local Karen National Union administrations at the township level, discussions between ethnic armed groups and the government regarding this matter are ongoing. Particularly, in the Karen State townships such as Hpapun, Kyarin Seikgyi and other townships where there are no government assigned administration chiefs, there is still uncertainty if villagers will have the right to vote in the 2020 national elections.

In the 2015 general election, Karen State registered over 900,000 eligible voters. A total of 19 political parties and more than 260 candidates contested the election – the National League for Democracy (NLD) with a majority of votes won government.

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