EC to ensure no new cluster after Chini by-election

Election Commission chairman Azhar Azizan Harun says initiatives will be taken to prevent the spread of Covid-19 during the Chini state by-election on July 4.

PUTRAJAYA: The Chini state by-election on July 4 will see a new standard operating procedure (SOP) introduced by the Election Commission to limit the number of voters for each polling channel to 400 compared to 600 previously.

EC chairman Azhar Azizan Harun said the commission had engaged the health ministry, the National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA), the National Security Council (NSC) and the police in drawing up the SOP.

“We don’t want to create a new cluster after the by-election. So, we are taking the initiative to prevent the spread of Covid-19 when holding the by-election,” he told a press conference at the EC Tower today.

Azhar said the suggested voting time would be stated on the voter’s card to ensure compliance with the social distancing regulation and reduce congestion at the polling centres.

On campaigning, he said the EC would follow the SOPs and regulations enforced during the movement control order (MCO), conditional MCO (CMCO) or enhanced MCO (EMCO).

“Let’s say the CMCO is still being enforced (during the by-election), so no ceramah will be allowed. Campaigns can only be carried out through the mass media, bunting and posters, as well as through the mobile campaign unit.

“It depends on the type of MCO being enforced at that time. We will monitor and finalise it when the time comes,” he said.

Azhar said the EC would also form a campaign enforcement team comprising the police, local authorities and representatives of candidates to oversee all activities during the campaigning period.

Asked what the EC would do if a voter was suspected to be Covid-19 positive or showed symptoms, Azhar said one of the suggestions was to bring the person to a special tent to be managed by health personnel wearing personal protective equipment (PPE).

“We will monitor the situation. There are a number of aspects to be considered. (For example) if we were to allow voting from the hospital or by post, how do we manage the ballot papers?” he said.

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