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Polling stations set up for Lao citizens to vote overseas

Polling stations will be arranged to allow Lao nationals living in foreign countries to cast their vote for new members of the National Assembly, with the election taking place on February 21.
Lao citizens can vote at Lao embassies and consulates in foreign countries where polling stations have been set up.
Lao embassies have been instructed to take part in the election of members of the National Assembly’s 9th legislature based on the local situation.
Spokesperson for the National Election Committee, Dr Somphou Duangsavanh, told Vientiane Times that, if necessary, mobile units could be organised in some countries to allow officials to collect ballot cards from voters.
“Indeed, we want all Lao nationals to vote and elect those who will represent their rights and interests in national parliaments.”
When asked whether people could vote online, Dr Somphou said “We do not encourage online voting but more discussion on this subject is needed.”
Dr Somphou said Lao embassies will make decisions about the voting process and decide how students, workers and embassy staff can cast their votes.
He was unable to say exactly how many Lao nationals overseas would vote. 
Many Lao students are currently studying in Vietnam, China and European countries, while there are a large number of Lao workers in Thailand.  
All Lao citizens in foreign countries are eligible to vote for candidates representing Vientiane (Constituency 1), regardless of their place of origin, as part of the process to elect 18 out of 23 candidates to the National Assembly.
The election campaign is underway in all 18 constituencies, with candidates contesting for seats in the National Assembly and Provincial/Capital People’s Councils meeting voters, introducing themselves, and explaining what they hope to achieve if elected. 
Many voters want to hear more about the candidates’ visions and what sort of changes they would push for if elected, and what role they think parliament should play.
According to the Election Law, candidates are not permitted to insult or speak down to their opponents in an attempt to get elected.
One interesting feature of this year’s election is that more younger people are standing for election and hoping to gain a seat in parliament.
The election of parliament members is a significant political event in Laos, allowing the National Assembly and Provincial People’s Councils to streamline their structure and recharge their membership.
A total of 164 members out of 224 candidates will be elected to the National Assembly. Provincial People’s Councils will acquire 492 members, who will be elected from 789 candidates.

By Somsack Pongkhao
(Latest Update
February 12,

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