EC must ensure that use of indelible ink in GE13 is fair and efficient

Press Statement, 12 November 2012

EC must ensure that use of indelible ink in GE13 is fair and efficient

While BERSIH 2.0 has welcomed the announcement by the Election Commission (EC) that indelible ink will be used in the 13th General Elections, the statements from the EC on the usage of the ink have caused serious concerns that the voting process itself may be fraught with unfair procedures and delays. The impending general elections, which is undoubtedly the most  anticipated in recent decades, must not be compromised by the introduction of the ink. Instead, the ink must serve to strengthen the fairness of GE13. Thus, the attached poster which has been released by the EC have raised question marks for BERSIH 2.0 to highlight. Among the major concerns we wish to bring to the immediate attention of the EC are: a) Use of indelible ink BEFORE voting has taken place

  • Voters may accidentally smudge the ballot paper with ink, thus making it invalid.
  • For this reason, most other countries which use indelible ink (such as Afghanistan, Egypt and Iraq) only apply the ink AFTER the voter has cast their ballot, to ensure the voters are not in the critical path of other voters. We urge the EC to follow these examples.

b) Location of ink application inside the voting station may result in a longer queue for voters

  • While the EC states that the process is very quick (“less than one minute”) and also says it can handle up to 800 voters per voting channel from 8am to 5pm, has it factored in the potential queue factor which may lead to overcrowding in the voting station? Will this require the presence of additional staff?
  • Thus we urge a minimum allocation of one minute per voter and ask that the EC conducts demonstrations with the public to ensure that the timing is adequate and that the process can be conducted smoothly.

c) Voters to be handed tissue paper before voting takes place – ink may be wiped off

  • The EC has told election monitoring groups that the ink “will dry immediately” once the extra ink is wiped off,  but this appears contradictory because how can we be certain that voters won’t accidentally remove most of the ink?
  • BERSIH 2.0 strongly disagrees with tissue paper being handed out to remove excess ink. Instead, there should be a minimum waiting time of one minute at ink application table to allow the ink to dry properly. As this takes time and may result in the forming of a queue, the ink should only be applied after voting has been completed.

d) The various costs involved in the purchase and use of the ink must be clearly stated for the public’s knowledge. The EC should also ensure that the quality and type of ink purchased is suitable for the elections, to avoid any last-minute withdrawal such as in the previous elections. As the money for this purchase comes from public taxes, BERSIH 2.0 urges the EC to be transparent about the entire process. The issues raised here must be resolved satisfactorily before the elections are called. As time is of the essence, BERSIH 2.0 urges the EC to address the concerns which have been highlighted by concerned civil society groups with regards to the proper use of indelible ink to ensure that the next elections are indeed free and fair for all Malaysians. Thank you. Salam BERSIH! Steering Committee Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections 2.0 (BERSIH 2.0) The Steering Committee of BERSIH 2.0 comprises: Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan (Co-Chairperson), Datuk A. Samad Said (Co-Chairperson), Ahmad Shukri Abdul Razab, Andrew Ambrose, Andrew Khoo, Anne Lasimbang, Arul Prakkash, Arumugam K., Awang Abdillah, Dr Farouk Musa, Hishamuddin Rais, Liau Kok Fah, Maria Chin Abdullah, Matthew Vincent, Niloh Ason, Richard Y W Yeoh, Dr Subramaniam Pillay, Dato’ Dr Toh Kin Woon, Dr Wong Chin Huat, Dato’ Yeo Yang Poh and Zaid Kamaruddin