EC to review postal voting system

By NG AI FERN (The Star)
KUCHING: The Election Commission (EC) will review the current postal voting system to minimise disputes in future elections.
However, amendments to the related legislation has to be done before the changes can come into effect.
The commission was apparently prompted to review the system by the many technical difficulties encountered in the recent Sibu by-election.
EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said Wednesday they would study the proposal to call for an early voting session for army personnel, policemen and EC staff instead of posting votes.
However, the new system will only come into place and be applicable after all required legislation is passed.
“The postal vote is so technical. The delay in counting postal votes in Sibu by-election was due to many disturbances and shouting outside the room that stressed the staff counting the votes.
“In addition, EC staff were stopped from bringing out ballot boxes containing these already counted postal votes. They were only brought out to Dewan Suarah Sibu after the situation calmed down,” he told a press conference.
He said the turnout for Sibu by-election was 70%, including postal votes, and it was reported as 59% earlier because they were waiting for the result of postal votes.
Abdul Aziz stressed that the by-election was carried out fairly and there was no manipulation involved, especially in the postal votes.
“We cannot change the result because the votes are already counted at polling stations. There is no manipulation from EC.
“Whichever party the people like, that party will win. We cannot fight the sentiment of people,” he said.
He clarified that there was no issue of more postal votes received than the total votes sent out as accused by certain parties.
“There were 2,827 postal votes in Sibu, we received 1,879 votes from army personnel (out of a total of 1,910), 596 votes from policemen (out of 627) and 162 from EC staff (out of 290).
“A total of 190 postal votes were not returned, including 128 from EC staff, 31 from army and 31 from policemen.
He stressed that army, policemen and election staff were free to vote but EC could not force them to return the votes and the trend of not returning postal votes happened throughout the country.
He said all state EC directors were told to watch out for shift of big group of voters.
He also explained that long houses were chosen as polling stations in Sarawak because there were no schools or nearby halls.