this story about the ordinary citizens trying to protect ballot boxes.
I suggest that the concerted efforts of BERSIH and other NGOs have improved the election process somewhat but there are still loop-holes that may jeopardize the integrity of the elections and these could be classified under administrative and legalistic issues.
First of all, the Elections Commission should not be reporting to the Prime Minister; especially since we do not appoint a caretaker PM during the polls and hence there is a conflict of interest in the present system.
Of course there has been wholesale abuse of government machinery like executive jets and helicopters and even civil servants are used during the campaign period. Dare the EC Chairman take action on such abuse?
The treatment of postal votes too leaves much to be desired.
I have the following questions with respect to postal votes:
1. How are the ballots allocated to different seats?
2. Is the register of postal votes determined with the same cut-off date as that of normal voters?
3. When is the allocation of constituency done?
4. What is the longest time allowed between the time postal votes are cast and the polling date?
5. What is the grace period for the ballots to be sent to the counting centres?
These questions indicate some areas which can affect the final polls outcome if postal votes can be tampered with during the period after voting to arrival at the Main Counting Centre.
I suggest that since military camps have different sizes, the number of postal votes is officially determined for each camp each year and that number cannot be increased for the elections. We simply cannot have the whole army transferred to a particular camp just so the Minister of Defence enjoys a safe seat!
The transfer cut-off date for registering of postal voters should be the same as for the civilian register. The postal votes should be allocated to a specific constituency each year at the same time as the number of postal voters.
The time postal votes are cast and the polling date should be kept to a maximum like 3 days as follows:
1 day balloting and transfer to a secured location that must have cctv surveillance with online transmission to 3 remote sites plus security guards.
1 day transfer to the Main Counting Centre(MCC)
1 day at Main Counting Centre I wonder if keeping ballot boxes at police stations is a good idea when we still cannot guarantee the safety of prisoners in remand.
There should be a definite cut-off window of time for the ballot boxes to arrive at the MCC – I suggest between 3pm to 4pm so that various checks on seals etc can be completed before the actual counting. Late ballot boxes will not be allowed in.
There should be only one entrance at the MCC for the postal ballot boxes to be brought in and details of the transport should be provided to all parties.
THE COUNTING PROCESS.
As the m’kini story indicates, the independent candidate lost by just 64 votes out of the total cast, it appears that a recount would be the most suitable manner to determine the results instead of having to file an Elections Petition that will take months to resolve.
I would make the following new rule for a recount if all the Borang 14 and ballot boxes have been properly handled. The 4% recount rule at the polling stations is subject to the following:
“The difference in the winning margin must be 1% or less and after this recount at the Main Counting Centre, each party of the 2 main contestants and the SPR can ask only ask for an additional recount ONCE.”
Table is compiled from Comments in the article – for illustration purpose only. Lau Lee (BN) 7,905 votes; Koh Boon Heng (Ind) 7,841 votes; Jamaluddin (PKR) 2,435 votes; Mohd Nor (Ind) 174 votes; rejected & unreturned 717 votes; MAJORITY 64 votes. Let’s see how the 1% rule applies to this scenario. BN 7905 Ind 7841 PKR 2435 Ind2 174 Spoilt 717 Total 19072 Majority 68 % of total 0.36
In this case, if we apply the 1% rule, a recount must be done. This better than putting more workload on the justice system and reduce bias as the votes are direct evidence and the people are the best protectors of our democracy.
If such a recount takes place, we can have perhaps 5 sets of counting teams so that the entire process of counting about 2000 ballots will take about 90 minutes. Surely this is better than waiting for the results in court?
photo: thanks to m'kini