Election Commission Submits Military Voting Law Amendments

The Union Election Commission has notified parliament of a set of amendments it has made to its current voting by-laws that will change the way military members and their families cast their ballots.

According to the notice, dated October 3, the amendments require state and regional election commissions to set up polling stations for military members and their families outside of military battalions; these new polling stations will also have to be able to accommodate election monitoring.

Currently, those voters are required to vote inside military barracks under the supervision of their superiors, making election monitoring there virtually impossible.

Parliament is not required to vote on or discuss the amendments. If lawmakers object, they will need to do so to the election commission directly; otherwise, the rules will go into effect in 90 days.

“This will improve the public’s opinion of the Tatmadaw”, Dr Hla Moe, secretary of the Parliamentary Rights Committee and an NLD member, told Myanmar Now on Monday. “It is important for ensuring fair elections.”

But some lawmakers are already objecting.

“I think it’d be more practical to make current military polling stations more transparent”, said Thaung Aye, a Union Solidarity and Development Party lawmaker for Pyawbwe township. “Maybe the NLD and the military just don’t trust one another”

Spokespersons from both the election commission and the Tatmadaw declined to comment on the amendments.

At a press conference in September, Tatmadaw True News Information Committee Major-General Tun Tun Nyi said security and time constraints make it difficult for military members to vote outside of their barracks.”

“They work 24 hours in the military. It is difficult to come out and vote,” he said. “There are many difficulties for both the Tatmadaw and their families.”

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