Archived: Will indelible ink mess up the polls?

PETALING JAYA: Bersih today criticised recent statements from the Election Commission (EC) regarding the use of indelible ink in the 13th general election, saying they raised concerns that the voting process might turn out to be a mess.

Referring to an EC poster outlining the steps a voter has to take to cast his ballot, the watchdog group indicated it disagreed that the ink be applied on a voter before he votes because he could smudge the ballot paper and thus make it invalid.

It urged the commission to follow the practice of such countries as Iraq, Egypt and Afghanistan and apply the ink after the casting of a vote.

Bersih also disagrees that the inking be done inside voting stations, saying this could result in long queues.

“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?” a Bersih press release said.

It urged the commission to conduct demonstrations with the public to ensure that the timing would be adequate and suggested a minimum allocation of one minute per voter.

It also urged the commission to review its proposal to supply voters with tissue paper to wipe off excess ink from their fingers.

The statement asked EC to publicise the costs involved in the purchase and use of the ink.

“The EC should also ensure that the quality and type of ink purchased is suitable for the election to avoid any last-minute withdrawal such as in the previous election.”

Bersih urged the commission not to delay resolving the concerns it was raising as well as those that had been raised by other civic groups with regard to the use of indelible ink.

These should be resolved before the coming election, it added.