The election commission is unable to collect a list of names for eligible voters from about 200 villages in Kachin State.
“We have to collect a population list before we make an eligible voter list,” Tun Aung Khaine, an officer for Kachin State election commission explained, and that means officials have to go door to door to confirm identities based on household.
He says they can’t reach some of the villages because they’re located within areas controlled by armed organizations. In other cases, the residents aren’t there after being displaced by the fighting. Some of their villages don’t even exist anymore.
Doi Bu, a vice-chair of Kachin State People’s Party, says it could harm the chances for ethnic parties in the 2020 general election. “I think the government should negotiate with ethnic armed organizations because people need to vote. They shouldn’t lose these rights.”
Another issue she says is gender equality. And there aren’t enough polling stations in some areas. In N’jang Yang town there are places to vote on one side of the river but not on the other side. “I think the election commission should review this matter.”
For similar reasons, residents of 215 villages in Kachin State were unable to vote during the 2015 election. Five years later, there’s been only a marginal increase.
Since June last year, the election commission has been working with the immigration and township general administration departments to register voters in Kachin State. It expects to have 1,070,000 names registered before the 890 polling stations in the state open for the election on November 8. There are 18 parties competing in Kachin State.