The country should consider multiple identification methods to curb possible electoral frauds instead of using just a singular ‘silver bullet’, Malaysian Election Observation Network (MEO-Net) coordinator Ong Boon Keong said yesterday.
“There has been a lively debate on whether indelible ink or biometrics system will be more effective in curbing electoral frauds and as an international election observer I should share my experience so as to dispel some myths around the issue.
“As a matter of fact many electoral democracies in Asia have been moving towards multiple identification system to ensure voter identification is done right. For example Bangladesh and Philippines lead in using electoral rolls with photographs to provide easy identification of voters besides the usual identification card and name.”
“As if this is not enough, some countries, such as Philippines require voters who have claimed their ballot papers to sign to acknowledge receipt to prevent the same person or someone else from claiming a second ballot using the same identity,” he said.
He added on top of all these, some countries also use indelible ink for reliable and effective voter identification especially for most challenging situations such as in places without electricity supply and so on.
“So here we can see that the trend is towards multiple identification systems rather than relying on just a single supposedly sure-fire method,” he said.
Ong said in addition to the multiple identification methods, what was more important was a heightened integrity in the overall election administration of a country.
“There has to be an administrative improvement to ensure that all the identification methods are really effective, for example Bangladesh spent half a year to renew the entire electoral roll of close to 90 million voters ahead of their last presidential elections to get rid of multiple registrations and other dubious registrations like dead voters and so on.
“In some countries they allow quick registrations, for instance in just a day or two in New Zealand so that no citizen who is eligible to vote is being denied of his or her constitutionally guaranteed voting rights.
“Not only that, the entire electoral system, from the appointment of election commissioners to the complaint handling mechanisms, is overhauled to ensure that electoral frauds are minimised so that the outcome of the elections will closely reflect the actual voters’ choices,” he noted.
On the other hand, he said, in Malaysia it could not be understood why indelible ink which was much cheaper should not be introduced as one of the means to check on election frauds.
“In fact there is no country, even the so called ‘advanced’ democracy that chooses to spend heavily on a biometric system for the purpose of voter identification. They are happy to use multiple identification system coupled with more enhanced electoral administration to ensure, as much as practicable, fraud-free elections,” added Ong.
He claimed that the decision to use the biometrics system actually was heading towards the wrong direction if electoral integrity was the real objective.
He said this was because the biometric system could only be used where there was computer/Internet based database but not in remote areas without electricity like many places in the interiors of Sabah and Sarawak.