No shortage of drama

Reports surfaced that some ballot papers did not have the official EC stamp

by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / pic by AFIF ABD HALIM

THERE was no shortage of drama on election day as Malaysians from all walks of life came out to cast their vote.

Polling day witnessed several unusual incidents involving the technical right up to the theatrical during the nine-hour voting period.

Taking cues from the errors made by some hopeful candidates on nomination day last week, voters came equipped with enough knowledge to safeguard their votes.

Most had arrived early to avoid the long wait and no one seemed to have forgotten about their identification cards (ICs).

A number of technical errors, however, came from the Election Commission’s (EC) side. Within hours after polling stations opened, reports surfaced that some ballot papers did not have the official EC stamp. The EC denied the reports, but classified the incident as isolated, if it did occur.

“The ballot papers are supposed to be stamped, but there could be instances where they missed it. Even in such instances, the presiding officer and the party agents can use their discretion to count them if they are satisfied with the issued ballot and accept it as a mistake made by the EC staff at the particular channel,” EC chairman

Tan Sri Mohd Hashim Abdullah told a media conference. He said ballot papers can still be considered as valid without the official stamp under such conditions.

In Seri Kembangan, some voters noticed that the ballot boxes were wrongly tagged.

The ballot papers — orange for Parliament and yellow for state seats — were placed in boxes with labels that did not match the papers. The same mistake was spotted by Bukit Antarabangsa candidate Azwan Ali, or Diva AA, who caused a row over the unintended lapse.

“I’m not an EC officer, but I’ve learned about this before, that was why I was furious.”.

Over in Penang, 41-year-old shopkeeper Goh Por Cheong was told that he was not able to vote after his name had been crossed out from the list at his polling station in Air Putih. The list showed that Goh had already cast his vote at SRJK(C) Kong Min Pusat, which he denied.

Goh has lodged a police report on the matter, claiming that his personal details were leaked in a recent house fire.

Apart from the technical slip-ups, three casualties were reported on the day.

Lor Voon Chor, 78, collapsed while queuing at the SMK (P) Taman Petaling polling station in Petaling Jaya. He was pronounced dead at the scene at 9.45am yesterday. Lor was accompanied by his wife and son, who said he suffered from heart and lung problems, as well as diabetes.

Another woman collapsed and died in Dungun, Terengganu. Rokiah Sulong, arrived at SMK Pulau Serai at 8.20am with her eldest daughter, and had fainted while waiting in line to cast her vote. It was learned that 54-year-old, Rokiah had a history of high-blood pressure. She died at 9.05am.

A polling clerk with the EC died from an unknown cause in Kampung Baru Sempalit in Pahang. Rozaliza Mohd Said, 49, complained of a upset stomach and collapsed outside the toilet without regaining consciousness.

Other concerns on election day include the distribution of fake ballot papers and voters who have mistakenly dropped their ballots in the wrong boxes. The relevant authorities have addressed both matters separately, with Mohd Hisham assuring voters that the mixed ballots will be segregated accordingly under the supervision of the presiding officer and the party agents.