Covid-19 public health restrictions making voter education ineffective

October 18, 2020

HURFOM: The Civic Action for Free and Fair Election (CAFFE) Project has been conducting voter education training since the third week of September, and will continue until  the end of October, 2020.

However, project coordinators report that Covid-19 restrictions and community concerns about the virus has made the training ineffective.

Due to the current restrictions, we cant travel where we want. Ive provided (voter education) training to young people in the city where there is access to the Internet. [It is hoped, they will  in turn, show their villagers how to vote. [However, this method is not too] effective,said Min Wunna, a Project Coordinator of CAFFE Project.

Most of the Mon Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) helping with voter education are located in townships that are under “stay at home” orders issued by the Mon State government.  As a result local villagers are reluctant to attend voter education sessions fearing a spread of the virus.  

In some villages, the Administrator and the Village Election Subcommission allowed us to organize a training. But the villagers dont welcome us. We werent allowed to organize training in government schools and monasteries. There are many challenges, said Nai Choon, a Project Coordinator with the Human Rights Foundation of Monland who coordinated voter education training in the Mon and Karen states and in Tenasserim Division.

Some remote villages are under a  “lockdown” so there has been no voter education in these communities.

Some villages in Ye Chaung Phya and Kyarinnseikyi Township dont have any Internet access. We wanted to go there in person but the villages were locked down,said Min Wunna.

The CAFFE project had planned to conduct  voter education and training sessions in 14 townships. To date they have been able to offer  training in 8 townships.

We cant gather people during the Covid19 period. When going to the Administrator to ask permission for the training, he asked how we were prepared to prevent the spread of Covid19. We replied that we are well prepared with masks and hand sanitizer. But the Administrator has to discuss our request with the Hundred Household Leader and Village Committee before granting us permission, said Min Bnyair Chan, a voter education trainer in Yebyu Township.

Civic Action for Free and Fair Election (CAFFE) Project is supported by five Mon CSOs – The Rehmonya Institute for Civic Engagement (RICE), Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM), Jeepyah Civil Society Development Organization (JCSDO), Konhongsar and Mon Youth Progressive Organization – (MYPO).

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