Cameras to detect misconduct, catch phantom voters, Azhar tells Umno

Election Commission officials getting ready for the Kimanis parliamentary by-election tomorrow.

BEAUFORT: Election Commission chairman Azhar Azizan Harun said the introduction of video cameras at voting channels during the Kimanis polls is aimed at detecting instances of misconduct and phantom voters.

He gave an assurance that the new initiative by EC will not compromise on the secrecy of the vote in the parliamentary by-election tomorrow.

He said the cameras will be angled in such a way that the votes remain a secret at all times.

“I would like to give the EC’s assurance that voting secrecy will not be affected at all by these recordings.

“If there are accusations of misconduct later, such as phantom voters or repeat voters, we can then refer to these recordings.

“I hope Umno will understand this because we will not do something that is against the law or not good,” Azhar told reporters after checking preparations for polling day at the Dewan Datuk Sri Panglima Mohd Dun Banir here today.

Sabah Umno Youth chief Abdul Azis Julkarnain had previously told the EC to drop its plans to use the video cameras as they were worried this may compromise voting secrecy.

The EC had announced the use of video cameras at all 68 voting channels in the by-election here to ensure an efficient and transparent election process.

Azis had said they did not want the cameras to be used to identify who the voters picked. He added that voters might fear that those in the ruling parties would know if they voted for the opposition.

Azhar said the proceedings will be recorded by EC for only its usage and will not be distributed to anyone.

He said the video cameras were a host of new initiatives introduced by the EC to enhance transparency and efficiency. Kimanis is the 10th by-election after the 14th general election

“We’ve made small improvements like the ballpoint pens used and the colour of the indelible ink.

“But the big ones are the ‘live feed’ to allow people to see what’s happening, from nomination day to the time the results are announced,” he said.

Election Commission chairman Azhar Azizan Harun meeting EC officials in Kimanis.

Azhar added the EC had also prepared waiting rooms for voters and better facilities such as ramps, buggies and wheelchairs for physically-disabled voters.

“As for the early voters, the key to the lock-up is kept in a sealed envelope and signed by polling agents.

“So we hope there will be no more accusations that the lock-up can be opened by someone who comes at midnight to stuff extra ballot papers,” he said, adding the EC will make further improvements in future.

To this end, Azhar urged the 29,618 Kimanis residents to cast their votes early tomorrow. The centres open at 7.30am and close at 5pm. A total of 650 EC personnel will be on duty.

He also advised supporters of political parties to cease campaigning at midnight tonight. “This also includes (campaigning on) social media.”

He expected the results to be announced latest by 10pm tomorrow, adding the EC will provide unofficial results from time to time.

On serious election offences, he said Umno had lodged two reports with the authorities regarding a Christmas party where Warisan was accused of giving out goodies to buy votes, and over Warisan president Mohd Shafie Apdal allegedly giving money to voters in Kimanis.

Azhar said Shafie had been cleared by anti-graft authorities that he was only giving out alms in Sandakan. Police are still investigating the allegation over the Christmas party