The new reforms by EC

[The use of indelible ink, among other reforms announced by the Election Commission on Monday, will go a long way in assuring people that the next general election will be above board.

THE Election Commission's (EC) decision to use indelible ink in the next general election, among other ground-breaking measures recommended by the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC), has been welcomed and will put an end to persistent allegations of double voting and other forms of electoral fraud.

In a situation where belief in the voting process has taken a knock, it is only natural that indelible ink be brought into play to restore faith in the electoral system.

The acceptance of the ink also shows that the Government welcomes any move to ensure greater credibility of the vote and electoral transparency.

It shows that the Government, too, is not afraid of the vote despite Opposition accusations of double voting, phantom voters, padding the roll and other types of electoral fraud.

It says it has nothing to hide as the vote has been accepted in previous elections and any dispute can always be referred back to the courts.

The EC announced on Monday that it is also accepting a PSC interim recommendation to allow advance voting for essential service personnel.

But it is not abolishing postal voting, which will be confined to commission workers and others who apply for it, in all a tiny figure.

All soldiers and policemen and their spouses will vote like other voters but in advance and in the presence of agents of contestants, thus avoiding charges that their bosses simply mark the ballot and stuff them into ballot boxes in their absence.

Another major change is that once a person is nominated and accepted, his or her nomination stands because the one-hour objection period is repealed giving returning officers more discretion on the matter.

Unhappy candidates can always seek legal recourse. Candidates cannot pull out once their nominations are accepted.

On the electoral rolls, the EC will display it every quarter for two weeks instead of the current one week and they will be constantly updated.

Disabled voters may be accompanied by a guardian or someone they trust.

Now, only relatives are allowed to help them mark ballots.

But despite these reforms, it is sad that a relatively advanced country like ours with a small voter base of 12.5 million has to resort to using indelible ink.

Usually, such practises are associated with giants like India or Indonesia which have a huge voter base and need to ensure that no person votes twice.

But since indelible ink ensures that double voting is prevented even though the electoral rolls and voting procedures are said to be tight, it is being used to assure everyone that the forthcoming general election is above board.

Another measure that Bersih 2.0 had demanded is a minimum 21 days of campaigning, a measure that is being discussed by the PSC and will be handled by the EC subsequently. Everyone involved in the election campaign feels it is only reasonable that additional time is allowed and not just the brief nine days of campaigning followed by polling.

The EC is also confident that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will not call for a snap election before the improvements are implemented.

Above all, these measures will go a long way in assuring people that the election is above board.

It will instil confidence in the general public that their vote counts and has not been defeated by double or phantom voting as alleged.

It is also the duty of the EC to go through and clean up the rolls of all those who have died or are ineligible to vote for whatever reason.

The Opposition is fond of showing the defects in the rolls once they are displayed like the name of a voter listed as Balai Polis Kerinchi in the Lembah Pantai constituency.

Each time they do this, it becomes a major embarrassment to the EC, which has to go to work and identify the debris in the roll and clean it up.

A clean roll is a major accomplishment in a democracy just as tight election procedures and full transparency by the EC are essential for the public to have confidence in their electoral system.

It is not enough to say everything is above board or the procedures are water tight when the anomalies keep cropping up in the electoral rolls.

To be fair, the EC has identified about 40,000 names that are due for purging for one reason or other.

Let's hope that figure is the whole problem.

Now that the commission has agreed to the use of indelible ink, it is advisable to let the people know how the ink will be used and the technicalities i.e. on which hand and on which finger and by whom.

Extensive publicity campaigns on all aspects of the ink and its use is necessary to allay public suspicion.

-the star.

posted from Bloggeroid

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