Postal vote irregularities continue to bug process

Pauline Puah and Kong See Hoh (The Sun)
PETALING JAYA (March 2, 2008): Allegations of irregularities in the electoral process continue to haunt the 12th general election this Saturday (March 8).
Election watchdog Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) pointed out that there were alleged breach of anonymity and secrecy, open opportunities for proxy voting and multiple registration in the observation of the issuance of postal ballots in the Setiawangsa parliamentary seat where postal voters form 26% of the electorate.
In a press conference today, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) information chief Tian Chua, who is a Bersih member, said one of the flaws found was the “Postal Voters Kit” which include Form 2 “Identity Declaration Form” which contains the name of the military or police personnel and the ballot serial number of the ballot paper.
“As Form 2 will be put in the envelopes together with the ballot papers to be returned for 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,” he said.
Election Commission (EC) secretary Datuk Kamaruzaman Mohd Noor when contacted explained that the number on the counterfoil was the ballot number and not the serial number in the electoral list.
“It’s just like a cheque book which has numbers on both sides. We stopped taking down the serial number on the ballot paper since the 2006 Sarawak state election,” he said.
On the allegation of multiple registration, he said: “They can make all kinds of allegations. Everyone can only have one ballot paper. If they have problems, they can check with the respective returning officers.”
Chua said since military and police personnel need not cast their ballots at the normal polling stations on Saturday, “this creates the possibility for a third party to mark the ballot paper on their behalf”.
“Party agents have also found that at least six voters in Setiawangsa have been issued with two ballot papers,” he said.
On Saturday, the postal balloting for the army and police personnel in the Sibu parliamentary seat had to be postponed due to the discovery of a double registration of postal voters in the electoral roll.
Setiawangsa PKR candidate Ibrahim Yaacob said he would file a formal protest to the EC later today.
He lamented that the party agent who was observing the issuance of the postal votes was not given the electoral roll in order to double check the names.
In the 2004 general election, Fedaral Territories Minister Datuk Zulhasnan Rafique won the seat with a majority of 19,669 votes against PAS’ Abdul Rashid Hassan Basri. The constituency comprises 52.4% Malays, 36.2% Chinese and 10.1% Indians.