Bersih decries postal vote fraud

Fauwaz Abdul Aziz (Malaysiakini)
Ballots have yet to be cast, but outrage has already been expressed following the discovery by polls reform group Bersih of serious flaws in the postal voting process.
Among the flaws are the lack of secrecy and anonymity afforded to police and military personnel.

bersih pc 020308 ibrahim yaacobAs election agents for PKR’s Setiawangsa parliamentary candidate Ibrahim Yaacob (right) found out yesterday, each of the ‘postal voters’ kit’ sent to voting personnel contain an accompaning ‘Identity Declaration Form’. [See full form]
This additional form, to be filled with the name of the military or police personnel and other particulars, includes an entry for the serial number of the ballot paper used by the personnel to indicate his or her choice of parliamentary and state seat candidate (see left).
“As Form 2 will be put in the envelopes together with the ballot papers to be returned from counting, it is a real concern on the part of the military and police voters that their choices will be known and that they may face retribution if they vote opposition,” said PKR information chief Tian Chua at a press conference this afternoon.
Bersih (Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections) is led by the opposition parties, and consists of non-governmental organisations and civil socities.
Win legally, lose fraudulently
bersih pc 020308 sivarasa rasiahWhile the significance of postal votes differ from one constituency to another, Chua noted that postal votes for the Setiawangsa parliamentary contest make up a huge 26 percent of its total voters, or about 14,000 – the largest percentage of postal voters in the country.
In 2004, the constituency of Lumut – which has a naval base – has the largest number of postal voters at out 11,000.
Also at the press conference was PKR vice-president R Sivarasa (photo, left), who said “even five percent (of total votes) is a big number and can shape the outcome” of an electoral contest.
“In other words, I can win legally and lose fraudulently because of these postal ballots,” said Sivarasa, who is running for the Subang parliamentary constituency.
Another flaw discovered by Ibrahim’s agents who observed the issuance of postal ballots in Setiawangsa that took place yesterday was the absence of any mechanism to ensure ‘proxy voting’ can be prevented.
Ibrahim’s agents were allowed to observe only the issuance of postal ballots at the point where these were placed and sealed in envelopes addressed to the individual voters at their respective army camps or police stations.
From there onwards, it cannot be known whether any ‘third party’ at the army base or police station received the postal voters’ kit and marked the ballots on behalf of the voters concerned, said Chua.
“In fact, allegations of proxy voting ordered by senior military or police officers has always marred the authenticity of the electoral process in Malaysia,” said Chua.
“If the integrity of these postal votes cannot be guaranteed, the (integrity) of the composition of Parliament and state assemblies is immediately compromised, and the entire electoral process becomes a sham.
“This is a grave violation of the human rights of voters of Setiawangsa and elsewhere in Malaysia to choose their leaders through a clean, free, fair and transparent electoral process.”
Double voting
Chua also demanded that the Election Commission look into the incidence of postal voters – whose names were distributed to the press – who had been issued two ballot papers each.
postal votes more than 2000 postal votes in 2004 general electionSimilarly, PKR had also received information that two ballot voters registered to mark their postal ballots in one parliamentary constituency had also been registered to vote on March 8 as an ordinary voter in another parliamentary constituency.
One Hazely Razin Yaakub with the army serial number of T719756, was registered to cast his ballot for the parliamentary constituency of Tasek Gelugor in Penang, said Chua citing the EC online database.
Another Hazely Razin Yaakub, however, has also been registered to vote in the parliamentary constituency of Tumpat, Kelantan.
The same problem was discovered pertaining to another army personnel in Penang who has been registered to vote also on March 8 in Bentong, Pahang.
“I was there when the EC was packing voter kits for postal votes on Saturday and we spotted at least six people having two ballots each,” said Setiawangsa candidate Ibrahim.
“This is voting fraud as each postal voter should have only one vote,” he added.
Disappointed but not surprising
Sivarasa criticised the EC for not making the use of indelible ink mandatory despite pronouncements earlier to do so.
He said its implementation would have countered the incidence of multiple registration of voters.
“They misled all Malaysians, not only yourselves, the voters of Malaysia and us, that they would implement the (use of) indelible ink, they also issued numerous statements about how much indelible ink would cost and they said they would buy it.
“Today, up to now, there are no instructions issued to the persons conducting the process this Saturday.”
Meanwhile, PKR de facto leader slammed the EC for the intransparently manner the postal ballots are being carried out.
“(We) are profoundly disappointed, though not surprised, by the latest evidence of postal voting fraud likely to be perpetuated during the upcoming elections,” Anwar told AFP.
“The untransparent process of postal votes will result in seats won by opposition candidates being stolen by the ruling coalition in a blatantly fraudulent manner,” he added.
Postal voting is presently restricted to military troops, policemen and teachers who are based far away from their constituencies.