The number of eligible voters in Kachin State’s Hpakant Township has increased since the 2015 election, the local electoral commission has said, ahead of Burma’s next general election scheduled for November 8.
There were 89,488 voters in Hpakant in 2015, but there are more than 180,000 this year, according to Aung Kyaw Thu, a Hpakant Township Election Commission officer.
“We are still checking all of the voter lists. Therefore, we cannot yet know the exact number of eligible voters. Generally speaking, there are more than 180,000 eligible voters in Hpakant Township,” Aung Kyaw Thu told KNG.
He said that 7,000 people had applied to have their names corrected after the second draft of the voter list was announced.
Another major issue concerning the election in Hpakant has been whether migrant workers from other parts of Burma should be able to vote in Hpakant or in their home constituency.
Jangma Naw Lat, a Kachin National Congress (KNC) electoral candidate in Hpakant, said that ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) approved voting rights for hundreds of thousands of domestic migrants while the KNC opposed it.
“I think it’s a political intervention. I don’t think they should approve the voting rights of domestic migrant workers in a host constituency,” Jangma Naw Lat said.
The Union Election Commission (UEC) made voting possible for migrants if they had lived in the host constituency for 180 consecutive days ahead of Burma’s 2015 election. The UEC reduced this to 90 consecutive days in 2020.
Local election commission officer Aung Kyaw Thu said that there were not separate voter lists for different populations in Hpakant, such as migrants, Burma Army soldiers, internally displaced persons, and indigenous communities.
“We do not differentiate between soldiers and civilians. We only make an eligible voter list combining all people,” he told KNG.
A total of 22 electoral candidates from six political parties, as well as one independent candidate, will contest for election in Hpakant Township.
The Kachin State People’s Party, Kachin National Congress, United Democratic Party, Union Solidarity and Development Party, National League for Democracy, and Tai-leng (Shanni) Nationalities Development Party are the parties running to represent Hpakant.
Kachin State has an estimated 1.1 million voters in total, according to the state’s election commission.