The Department of Training and Public Information of the National Election Commission is responsible for producing and disseminating voter education materials and promoting awareness on electoral matters. The NEC should also encourage the active participation of national and international NGOs operating in Cambodia in dissemination and education activities to promote civic electoral awareness.
During the election campaign period, the NEC shall request the Director of newspapers, radios, and TVs to provide it with their weekly or monthly broadcasting programs and the broadcasting tariff. The private media system is also encouraged to disseminate election information to voters.
From the voters’ survey, television and radio are the primary media sources of information Cambodians use to learn about the country’s developments. They also gained information from friends and family, private TV channels, state TV channels, private radio stations, state radio, and friends and family. The primary source of information on the voter registration update was the village chief.
Voter education in Cambodia was inadequate during past elections. However, voters’ knowledge levels have increased – voters could vote and understood their right to vote. The need for civic and voter education prevails in Cambodia and will continue to do so in future elections: only informed citizens can become allies in the process of reforming and improving the country’s social, economic, and political systems.
Some of the obstacles and challenges to voter education are:
- Voter education dealt with critical issues like vote-buying and intimidation that annoy vested interests;
- On occasion, local authorities, PEC and CEC created obstacles;
- As elections were held in the rainy season, education programs are sometimes disrupted by inclement weather;
- At times, there was a lack of voter interest to attend such events;
- The NEC failed to engage the state media effectively in disseminating voter education;
- Some voter education programs during the past election were partisan.
Voter education issues in Cambodian elections include:
- election laws, regulations, procedures, election schedule, etc.;
- how citizens can participate in elections;
- information regarding parties and candidates, enabling citizens to make an informed choice.
Voter education in Cambodia is conducted through the following means:
- radio and television discussions, call-in shows, etc.;
- posters, leaflets, pictorial booklets, flyers;
- training programs and community public meetings such as those in pagodas, schools, and other public places;
- dramas, movies, and other performances. The conference identified public education as a joint responsibility of the following: the NEC – national and international NGOs, EMOs, etc.; political parties, local authorities, the media, and all citizens.
During the past elections, it was recognized that voter education was inadequate during the voter registration process as the process occurs early in the election cycle, when parties and EMOs are not fully prepared to activate their volunteer networks.
For the 2013 Elections, there were different groups of active local and international CSOs involved in civic education campaigns, such as COMFREL, NICFEC, UNDP working with Khmer Youth Association (KYA) and the CDPO, a group advocating for the rights and wellbeing of Cambodians with disabilities, to raise carry out awareness-raising activities aimed at empowering indigenous people and people with disability to exercise rights to vote.
Other local organizations involving civic/ voter education are the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO), Amara- Cambodian Women’s Network for Development.
Cambodia Elections: Lessons Learned and Future Directions: A Post-Election Conference Report, NDI, 2004, https://www.ndi.org/sites/default/files/1782_kh_report_021204_5.pdf.
Voter Registration and Elections in Cambodia Key Findings from an IFES Public Opinion Survey, IFES, 2012, http://www.ifes.org/sites/default/files/voter_registration_and_elections_in_cambodia_2012_2.pdf.