Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

NEC Claims More Than 400,000 of Ballots Spoiled, Blames Overseas Opposition

A spoiled ballot at a Phnom Penh polling station. (CamboJA/Sovann Sreypich)
A spoiled ballot at a Phnom Penh polling station. (CamboJA/Sovann Sreypich)

In the aftermath of Sunday’s elections, the CPP has won 120 seats to Funcinpec’s five seats, while the National Election Committee (NEC) reported that spoiled ballots comprised 5.37% of the total votes.

NEC spokesperson Hang Puthea blamed the majority of the spoiled ballots on opposition groups.

“It will be caused by a campaign [of spoiling ballots] to destroy the election process which was committed by extremist groups abroad,” Puthea said.

But Puthea said that in the 2018 elections — after the CNRP was dissolved — the rate of spoiled ballots was 9.3%.

The public database Kamnotra found that Phnom Penh had the highest rate of spoiled ballots at 7.5%, while Kandal province’s 6.9% was the second highest. 

“The leaders of the extremist group have made it very clear that the spoiled ballots are the ballots that support them, and how many ballots are crossed and null and void projecting as percentage,” Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Sunday. 

Former vice president CNRP, Mu Sochua who lives exiled in the US, claimed via email that the CNRP has strong evidence — which she did not share — stating that the real percentage of spoiled ballots is as high as 15%, and called for the NEC to be transparent in the vote counting. 

“Spoiled ballots must be taken seriously as they reflect the will of the voters,” Sochua said. “Spoiled ballots express rejection of the sham election, or voters not seeing the party of their choice [on the ballot],” she stated.

“Voters in Phnom Penh and Kandal are well educated. This may explain the higher rate of the spoiled ballots,” Sochua said.

She added that opposition activists are collecting public voting results forms from polling stations and noted that Human Rights Watch (HRW) had documented voting irregularities in the 2022 commune elections among Phnom Penh polling stations. After initially rejecting HRW’s findings, the NEC issued a letter on July 21 acknowledging there had been mistakes in the electoral process. 

Election watchdog Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (Comfrel) monitor Korn Savang said his organization was still reviewing its reports from election day but had recorded some irregularities.

He said that irregularities recorded by Comfrel included: local authorities present at polling stations, voters names removed from the voter list, citizens holding photocopies of Khmer ID cards, village chiefs recording the names of voters in some areas, and some polling stations not displaying the voting results 1102 form 1102.

“Those are irregularities that do not follow the [NEC’s] principles” Savang said.

“There are primary reports and we don’t yet have the details of reports,” Savang added. “We do not make a conclusion, we have just compiled as documents.”

Puthea claimed that there had been “no complaints” on election day, regarding irregularities in the electoral process, compared to the 35 the NEC had received in the July campaign period. He noted that the NEC will review five complaints later this week, as they had been unresolved at the provincial election committee level. 

Most of the complaints were filed by ruling CPP supporters against alleged attempts to destroy ballots, Puthea said. 

Ruling CPP spokesperson Sok Eysan said that police took action to ensure to maintain the law against anyone who contributed to or followed the opposition’s incitement to disrupt the election process.

“The person who cast the ballot is not guilty because they are using their rights to do so, but those who incite people to cast the [spoiled] ballot and violate the rights of others and use Sam Rainsy’s tactics are guilty,” Eysan said.

NEC’s Puthea said that preliminary election results are set to be announced on August 5.