By Nigel Aw
The parliamentary select committee (PSC) on electoral reform’s recommendations for advance voting and indelible ink will be implemented for the 13th general election, said Election Commission (EC) chief Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof.
“By default, all military men and their spouses, police and spouses of Pasukan Gerakan Am (general operations force) will be advance voters unless they are on duty and apply for postal voting,” he said at a special press conference to respond to the PSC interim report.
Abdul Aziz added that a different type of indelible ink that lasts longer will be used on advanced voters
The inks have been sent to the Malaysia Chemistry Department and the results will be submitted to the National Fatwa Council and the Health Ministry, he said at the event at the EC headquarters in Putrajaya this morning,
“If the National Fatwa Council says that it is haram, then we will work to get the ink from different sources, but as far as we know, the ink that we are using has been widely used by Muslims in several countries.”
The two changes are according to the PSC’s interim report that Parliament endorsed on Dec 1.
‘Indelible ink will be indelible’
Abdul Aziz added that the inks have to be reevaluated because they are different from those that were initially imported and had been intended for the 2008 general election.
He refused to disclose the source of the indelible ink, stating that the specifications will be kept secret until the evening before voting day.
“The indelible inks contain silver nitrate that will be absorbed in the nail and skin, it cannot be removed. The higher the percentage of silver nitrate, the longer it lasts. For advance voters, it will be at least seven percent and for normal voters four percent.”
“he four percent one may last up to three days but the seven percent one may last up to a week.”
He added that all voters must be marked by indelible ink and constitutional concerns do not arise as attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail has clarified the matter.
“The EC is preparing for procurement and training for the use in indelible ink. Amendments to rule 19 of the Election Rules 1981 are also being made and will be laid on the table in Parliament.”
However, he noted that it does not need to be debated by Parliament.
‘Polling agents can guard ballot boxes’
For advance voting, Abdul Aziz said polling stations will be set up at army camps or police bases two to three days prior to election day.
“We estimate that the advance voting period may take up to two or three days, for example in Setiawangsa there are over 10,000 military men but whatever it is, advance voting must end before the actual voting day,” he said.
At the end of the day, the ballot box will be sealed and signed by the polling agents from all relevant parties and a new ballot box will be used if voting extends beyond a day.
“The ballot boxes will be stored in a safe place and guarded by police, and if the polling agents want to guard the ballot boxes as well, they may do so.”
Recommendations for doctors, nurses and journalists to be allowed advance voting is still under discussion but Election Commission officers who are on duty can apply for postal voting as before, he said. – Mkini