Sibu: Glaring flaws mar postal vote credibility

Several glaring postal voting discrepancies detected yesterday at the Sibu by-election has again raised questions about the credibility of the postal voting process.
DAP Youth chief Anthony Loke (centre in photo) today demanded explanations from the Election Commission (EC) on three separate issues detected by party polling agents at various postal voting centres.
Loke said the most serious discrepancy was that several codes (police or army personnel voter-groupings) saw returned ballots in excess of the number that were issued on May 12.
He identified Code 708 (police) where six ballots were distributed, and 24 returned. Code 429 (army) saw 160 ballots issued and 161 returned. For Code 43 (army), 47 were issued and 67 returned.
“For the postal voting process to be legitimate, even a single vote cannot be exceeded. In this case, we are talking about a 39-vote difference,” said Loke, who is Rasah MP.
Taking ballots home
The second discrepancy, noted Loke, involved the 290 ballots that were issued to EC workers who applied to be postal voters because they were working on polling day.
Loke said that about 200 of such voters did not vote on the same day (May 12) and went home with their ballots, which he argued could then be “sold”.
“If taken out of the polling centres, ballots becomes a commodity to be sold. Now, no one will know who actually marked those ballots that were issued,” he said.
Loke added that there were also dubious individuals among the 200-odd voters who returned their ballots yesterday, some of whom refused to be identified by party scrutineers.
“One person looked more like a VCD seller than an EC worker (left). He had some young people with him. Our people tried to check their ICs but they all claim that they forgot to carry it with them,” he said.

Reforms overdue

The third discrepancy detected by DAP was that out of the 290 postal voters who were EC workers, two were not even in the electoral roll.
“When we demanded for their IC, they promptly left,” he said.
Loke said the DAP decided to highlight these issues to show that there is a need for a total reform of the postal voting process, which is a long standing issue because the process is riddled with flaws and open to abuse and manipulation.
“But for now, we demand a thorough explanation from the EC,” he said.
He also questioned why the EC permitted voters to bring their ballots home for several days instead of marking and casting them on the spot.