Myanmar’s electoral management body, the Union Electoral Commission (UEC), was established in 2008 and formally constituted in March 2010. The UEC has run two national elections to date: the general elections in 2010 and the by-elections in 2012.
By constitutional mandate, the UEC leadership is comprised of at least five commissioners, each appointed by the president. Eight commissioners are currently in place, including a chairman and a secretary general. To qualify to be a commissioner, the appointee must be at least 50 years old and cannot be a current member of a political party or a representative of parliament.
The UEC’s constitutional mandate is to hold and supervise elections for the elected seats in the national and regional parliaments. (One-fourth of seats in the national parliament and one-third of seats in regional parliaments are reserved for the military and are appointments not subject to electoral laws or rules).
The UEC is responsible for establishing sub-commissions at a regional, district, township, and village level. There is a sub-commission for each entity at a given level, resulting in 14 regional sub-commissions, 73 district sub-commissions, and 330 township sub-commissions.
The UEC’s activities are also governed by five specific laws: the Union Election Commission Law, the Political Parties Registration Law, and three Hluttaw election laws. The UEC law reiterates the roles and responsibilities outlined in the constitution, adding that the UEC will be funded through the state budget and that it can request help from other ministries departments and individuals in conducting elections. The UEC normally depends on local government employees and staff, such as teachers, to help administer elections.
The UEC is responsible for designating constituencies, compiling and amending voter lists, determining whether elections should be postponed or cancelled as a result of weather or security conditions, promulgating regulations for political parties and electoral procedures, implementing relevant laws passed by the parliament, and constituting electoral justice tribunals. Moreover, the UEC is responsible for assembling and overseeing the sub-commissions at the local and regional levels.
Other key UEC roles include voter education, delimitation of voting precincts, vote tabulation, and final pronouncement of election results.
At the national level, the UEC has conducted a series of public consultations with civil society and political parties on issues such as the voter list updating process, voter education and political campaign as In July 2014 the UEC had issued a directive stipulating the restrictions for campaigning during the elections. The campaign period of 30 days given in that directive was considered too short by the political parties. In a meeting with political parties in Yangon on 21 October 2014, Chairman U Tin Aye of the UEC, extended the campaigning period to 60 days but reiterated that the other restrictions will continue to be enforced.
The political party registration law lays out rules for forming and registering political parties, which the UEC must oversee and administer. It details who is eligible to form a party and who can be members, and provides broad guidelines for party financing and registration.
In the months leading up to the elections, voters must check their names on the list and write to the UEC if they are not properly registered within 14 days after the list is publicly displayed. The UEC has conducted registration pilots and education efforts to help people better understand the registration process and to encourage people to check the lists in advance of voting day.
Advance voting is conducted at certain locations and the votes are sealed and sent via post to the original constituency.
Regards to overseas voting, according to The Pyithu Hluttaw Election Law, Art. 47, diplomats of the Union of Myanmar and members of their household, diplomatic staff and members of their household, State scholars and members of their household, delegates and members of their household, who are outside the country at the time of holding election and those who are outside the country with the permission of the Union government and members of their household at the time of holding election to vote in advance for their respective constituency. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs shall take the responsibility of communicating with those who are outside the country and who have the right to vote so as to enable them to vote in advance.
Elections and Political Transition in Myanmar, Princeton University, Feb 2015, http://wws.princeton.edu/sites/default/files/content/Princeton%20-%20Burma%20-%20FINAL.pdf.
Myanmar Comparative Data, ACE Project, http://aceproject.org/epic-en/CDCountry?country=MM&set_language=en.
C. S. Kuppuswamy, Myanmar: Elections 2015, South Asia Analysis Group, Nov 7, 2014, http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/node/1648.