On Nov 8, 2020, the people of Myanmar reaffirmed their commitment to democracy by turning out to vote despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although important aspects of the electoral process were impacted by restrictions imposed to combat the pandemic, the Carter Center’s international election observation mission found that voters were enthusiastic and able to freely express their will at the polls and choose their elected representatives.
At the same time, the quality of democracy in Myanmar continues to be undermined by serious deficiencies in the legal framework, including the reserved seats for military appointees, highlighting the need for reform to bring the country in line with international obligations. Ongoing conflict in many areas of the country and the exclusion of more than two million people from the electoral process because of violence or discrimination further undermine the democratic character of the election process.
The efforts of the Union Election Commission (UEC) and Ministry of Health and Sports to overcome the challenges presented by COVID-19 are commendable. Following a sometimes-contentious preelection period, election day itself occurred without significant incidents or major irregularities being reported by mission observers.
In polling stations visited by Carter Center observers, election procedures were widely adhered to, with the conduct of voting assessed positively in 94% of polling stations visited. In polling stations where counting was observed, the process was conducted according to procedures and in the presence of party agents. Tabulation proceeded smoothly in tabulation centers observed by the mission,although access for mission observers was limited or denied in three cases. The Carter Center will continue to monitor the tabulation of results and the post election complaint process.