Ready for polls

The Star – Saturday December 22, 2007

PUTRAJAYA: The Election Commission (EC) is all set for the general election – some 50,000 transparent ballot boxes have been distributed across the country and 250,000 workers are ready to be mobilised.

Its chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman said the use of indelible ink was also ready to be introduced, as requested by some political parties and non-governmental organisations, in an effort to prevent fraud.
He said the EC was on the last leg of briefings for returning officers (ROs) and assistant ROs.
“The EC is ready. All other preparations are completed,” he said in an interview here yesterday.
Abdul Rashid said many of the ROs and officers involved in the briefings had also had some experience in conducting elections.
“Many of them are senior government personnel, in the level of district officers. So, they don’t actually require much teaching in terms of how to run elections.
“About 85% of them have performed electoral duties. It’s not a problem even if elections were held now,” he said.
Abdul Rashid said the elections would cost RM200mil this time round – RM65mil more than the cost incurred in the last elections – because of the new features to be introduced.
“This time around, we are having the transparent ballot boxes instead of the old ones. This cost us some RM16mil.
“There is also an increase of 15% in the number of polling districts and, therefore, there will be more polling stations. In order to man all these polling stations, we have to employ more people.
“During the last elections, we employed 175,000 people. This time, it will be 250,000 people, all of whom have to be paid allowances ranging from RM150 to RM800 a day. So, it is a huge sum we will have to pay,” he said.
Abdul Rashid said the indelible ink, which would be applied to the left forefinger of voters to prevent fraud, would cost about RM1mil.
Some 10.5 million citizens will be eligible to vote in the next general election, with the EC having recently endorsed an additional electoral roll of 412,756 voters.
The EC has also removed 141,063 names from the record of registered voters.