Survey leaves more questions than answers

[Sent to the Cambodia Daily on 31 October 2013. Not published.]

Your 30 October article on “Disenfranchised Votes” appears based on a National Democratic Institute press release, but I have not been able to find this release, or the survey it refers to, on the internet. This arouses a suspicion that the local NDI is experimenting to find out, before launching it on an unsuspecting world, whether its propaganda can pass muster locally. It can’t.

The article gives no indication of the number of people interviewed in NDI’s survey, nor how they were selected. Furthermore, the survey, or the article, describes only a minority of the respondents: 32.6% of frustrated voters couldn’t find their names on the list and 15.2% were “prevented” by officials. What about the other 52.2%? Were they blocked by floods? by racial riots against suspected Vietnamese voters? How many officials alleged to have prevented voting were in CPP-run and how many in CNRP-run communes?

Cambodians are not as reluctant to vote as are US citizens. But some choose not to. Did the survey consider the possibility that some people who chose not to vote might respond inaccurately to questioners whose question implied that voting was something they should have done? Did it ask would-be voters whether they had searched for their name on the list posted before the election? Did it ask to see evidence that they had registered – for example, the receipts that voters are given when they first register?

How was the CNRP “prevented” from accessing the voters list when it was publicly displayed in every commune well before the election? Why does the article not mention that during the updating of the voters list at the end of 2012, the parties that became the CNRP boycotted the entire process?

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