Votes will no longer be recounted at tallying centres

By Zubaidah Abu Bakar

7 February, 2008
KUALA LUMPUR: There will be no more vote recounts at tallying centres in the upcoming general election. Instead recounts will be done at the polling stations. A recount is allowed by law upon a request from an aggrieved party – usually agents of candidates contesting in an election.
“We are reverting to the old system and have amended the regulation pertaining to this matter,” said Election Commission deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar.
He said recount of votes at the polling station would be allowed if the majority votes secured was four per cent or less than the total number of votes cast, excluding rejected and spoilt ballot papers.
Recounting at vote tallying centres was introduced in the 2004 general election after an amendment was made to the Elections (Conduct of Elections) Regulations, 1981 in 2002.
It was thought to be a good idea but consumed a lot of time because all votes cast had to be recounted even if a dispute involved only a single ballot box.
Prior to 2004, vote recounts were conducted at polling stations and was only allowed if the minimum majority vote received was two per cent or less than the number of votes cast.
Wan Ahmad explained that the EC decided to amend the regulation again in 2006 as past experience found the process to be too cumbersome.
“There is a lot of inconvenience to carry out recounting at tallying centres. The process was messy.
“Tension was always high because supporters from parties involved in a contest tend to gather at the tallying centres to witness the process,” he said, citing the highly-charged recounting process of the Permatang Pauh parliamentary constituency in 2004.
A recount was carried out for Permatang Pauh following a protest by Barisan Nasional’s Datuk Pirdaus Ismail after he lost to Parti Keadilan Rakyat president Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
Wan Azizah was eventually declared the winner.
“After our experiences in the 2004 general election and subsequent by-elections, we feel it is better to revert to the old mechanism,” Wan Ahmad said.
He also said recounting process would also be faster at the polling stations.