(Malaysiakini) Clean up electoral roll, abolish postal voting

The Election Commission (EC) has been urged to carry out two more reforms following its decision to use indelible ink to prevent multiple voting.

“While indelible ink can eliminate multiple voting, it does not prevent impersonations and the involuntary transfer of voters,” said Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) in a statement yesterday.

The coalition – which is supported by 64 NGOs, civil society groups and opposition parties – said EC must also clean up the electoral roll and abolish postal voting.
“To ensure all legitimate voters and only legitimate voters can vote in the elections, EC must advise against any decision by the government to hold the elections before the electoral roll is satisfactorily cleaned up and updated,” said Bersih.
An amendment to the Election Act in 2002 removed all legal avenues for parties to challenge the roll’s credibility or the election results based on a flawed electoral roll.
The amendment was carried out after an election court nullified the election results for Likas, Sabah in 2001, on the grounds that its electoral roll was illegal and contained phantom voters.
Missing ballots

On postal voting, the coalition wanted EC to allow the polling agents of contesting parties to monitor the entire process.
Except for those on active duty on polling day, Bersih said, army and police personnel should be allowed to vote in polling centres like other voters.
“Should the EC, security forces and others object to the abolition, they must articulate their rationale publicly or suggest ways to overcome the problems associated with this process,” it added.
Bersih cited the example of the disappearance of 5,000 ballots in Lumut – a naval base – over four consecutive elections since 1990.
Meanwhile, Bersih also called for other long-term reforms such as allowing a longer campaigning period – a minimum of 21 days, allowing equal media access to all parties and the establishment of a code of conduct for the media to ensure balanced reporting.
Last week, EC chief Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman said the commission agreed in principle to use indelible ink in elections pending two conditions after repeated requests by various groups, especially the opposition.
He said the commission intended to implement the new proposal for the coming general elections but this depended on whether there was a need for any legal amendments and if they could ascertain the type of ink to be used.
Several ruling parties have objected the idea on the grounds that the method was not up to date. On the contrary, opposition and election watchdogs have given the thumbs-up.
“EC must be seen to act speedily to ensure the implementation of indelible ink for the next election and to make sure that the implementation is in accordance with internationally accepted practices,” said Bersih.