Many Kachin citizens without national ID cards will be omitted during the 2020 general election. According to the Kachin State Election Commission, hundreds of thousands in the state are expected to be left out when polling stations open later this year.
The Kachin State Election Commission told KNG in Kachin State about 1.1 million are registered to vote. But 150,000 are not included on the voting list.
Gumgrawng Awng Hkam, vice-chair of Kachin State People’s Party (KSPP), says the government needs to launch a public awareness campaign about why voting is necessary for a healthy democracy. “A vote can change the government. A vote can determine whether the outcome of a situation is good or bad,” he says.
Tun Aung Khine, from Kachin State Election Commission, says “this isn’t a new problem.” For those without ID, they should inform their village administrative office or the general administration department officer (GAD). “Some don’t realize they should get a national ID card when they’re an adult. Another problem is families don’t always know the ID numbers of everyone in their household when our staff go door to door to verify voter information,” he says.
Since 2019, the Kachin State Election Commission and other government agencies like the immigration department have been adding new names to the voter list. Although it’s been increasing by the month, only those with proper ID can be included.
There will be 880 polling stations this year. During the 2015 election, 870,000 people voted in 814 locations.
According to the Kachin State Election Commission, 21 political parties registered to contest in Kachin State but only 18 were approved.
“The 88 Generation Student and Youth Party (Union of Burma) and the Union of Burma National Politics League have been suspended for three years, making them ineligible to run in the upcoming election,” Tung Aung Khine explained. He says the suspension of the People’s Democracy Party will end this year and the party may still be able to join the race in time.
The approved parties are National Unity Party (NUP), Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP), United Democratic Party (UDP), New People’s Party (NPP), Union Solidarity and Development
Party (USDP), National Democracy Force (NDF), National League for Democracy (NLD), Tai Leng Nationalities Development Party (TNDP), Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), Kachin National Democratic Party (KNDP), Kachin National Congress (KNC), Lisu National Development Party (LNDP), Shanni Solidarity Party (SDP), Law Wor National Solidarity and Development Party (LNSDP), Union Betterment Party (UBP), Kachin State People’s Party (KSPP), New Democracy Party (NDP) and Naga Party (NP).