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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Election Commission admits ink used during GE13 not up to mark and other weaknesses

The Election Commission has finally admitted that the indelible ink used in the 13th general election in May had weaknesses.
Among others, it was washable and took a longer time to dry and because of that, it left stains on the ballot papers.
“The procedure on how to properly use the indelible ink was not explained in detail. The ink was found to be easily washable and took a longer time to dry,” said EC in a post-mortem report distributed to the media today.
“We have improved the content and the method of storage. We have also changed the way the indelible ink was applied. Instead of just a simple mark, voters had to dip their forefinger into the ink. Besides that, EC had also provided proper guideline on the usage to the clerk,” it said in the statement,
The indelible ink fiasco was one of several issues which cropped up during the general election and created mistrust on the electoral system.
Adopted as a security measure to ensure that voters only cast their ballots once and to assure Malaysians that the polls were fair, the ink was meant to stay on a voter's finger for a few days.
However, some voters noted that the ink could be scrubbed off.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim had admitted during the Dewan Rakyat session in July that the indelible ink used in the general election contained food colouring.
He further added that the absence of the required chemical was the reason the ink was easily washed off.
It cost RM7.1 million to buy, package, store and transport the ink.
In the May 5 general election, Barisan Nasional won 133 of the 222 parliamentary seats, once again failing to secure a two-third majority.
Despite the protests against the outcome of the polls, the EC insisted that it had carried out the elections in a fair and free manner, claiming that the highest ever voter turnout of 84.84% was a reflection of the confidence the people had in the electoral process.
After the general election, Pakatan Rakyat and certain groups organised the Black 505 gathering throughout the nation to protest against the alleged electoral fraud.
PR also filed a suit in July against EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusuf and deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar for making false statements over the indelible ink and the content of silver nitrate in the ink.
Besides the indelible ink, the post-mortem report also listed seven other weaknesses. Among them were the lack of training and briefing to the election workers, difficulty to detect a person's residential and bankruptcy status during nomination, and the difficulty of EC officers to execute their duties during the campaign period.
The report said there was also a lack of police escorts during the handling of postal ballot papers, weaknesses on polling day, confusion during the counting of ballot papers and the delay in announcing the results at the counting centre.
EC also revealed that it also received feedback on other issues, including some voters being assigned different polling stations although they lived in the same house, electoral reform, voters registering with the same address and the issue of EC's freedom and credibility.
The post-mortem meeting took place from June 19 to July 15.
Among those involved in the meeting were EC officers on duty during the general election, the police and the armed forces.

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