The Election Commission (EC) for Puta-O District, located in northern Kachin State, announced that four polling stations will be designated for the country’s armed forces during the upcoming general election, three of which will also be used by civilians. The only polling station in the district just for soldiers will be in Machyangbaw Township.
Although there isn’t a station only for the Army in Sumprabum Township, nearly 400 Tatmadaw soldiers were sent to the township, according to accounts from locals.
“Locals told me two different reasons why soldiers were sent to Sumprabum. First, soldiers will provide security during the election. Second, they’ll cast their ballots in the township,” Duwa Gumgrawng Awng Hkam, Kachin State People’s Party’s (KSPP) electoral candidate for Sumprabum Township, told KNG.
Duwa Gumgrawng Awng Hkam said soldiers from IB-37 from Myitkyina and a battalion from Mohnyin Township were sent to Sumprabum Township. Together they comprise about one-fifth of the total population. Along with the township’s many migrant workers, they make up almost half of the total population. Surprisingly, there’s no Tatmadaw base in Sumprabum. The soldiers are staying in school buildings and on a rubber plantation.
During previous races, soldiers were required to vote on army bases. This year they have to do it off base. They are allowed to cast ballots anywhere in the country, but only if they have been in the constituency for at least 90 days before the polls open. They can apply for Form-3a to vote in the host constituency until October 10. And they are allowed to vote two days before the election if they have military service on the November 8 election day.
There will be a total of 139 polling stations in Puta-O District (48 in Puta-O Township, 17 in Machyangbaw (or Machanbaw) Township, 25 in Nawng Moon (Nugmung) Township, 36 in Hkawnglanghpu Township and 12 Sumprabum Township).
In Kachin State, there will be 890 stations.
The parties contesting the election in Puta-O District are KSPP, Union Solidarity and Development Party, National League for Democracy, National Unity Party, Lisu National Development Party, Kachin National Congress, United Congress Party and Union Betterment Party.
There are 28 electoral candidates contesting the House of Representatives, 6 contesting the House of Nationalities, and 57 contesting State Parliament. There are 29 electoral candidates contesting ethnic ministerial posts, including 7 candidates for Minister of Bamar (Burmese) Ethnic Affairs, 8 candidates for Minister of Shan Ethnic Affairs, 8 candidates for Minister of Lisu Ethnic Affairs and 6 for Minister of Rawang Ethnic Affairs.
There are 60,275 eligible voters in Puta-O District.
During the previous race in 2015, there were 55,362.
In Kachin State, there are 1.1M voters. In 2015, there were 800,000.