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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Use of Indelible Ink: Whats The Fuss?

Recently, the Election Commisions (EC) announced that voters will have to 'inked' their finger before casting their votes.

The decision was made after the Fatwa Council announced that the ink is halal.

After the first meeting the election commisioners, Putrajaya last month, Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman (photo above) said that they would decide using the ink after the Fatwa Council's meeting, my boss ask,

"Since when this SPR refer things to Fatwa Council?"

"Why didn't they refer to the (Fatwa) Council when it comes to their corruption?"

I smiled.

About the Ink

What I understand, EC is planning to purchase the indelible ink from India.

I also learn that the this indelible ink would most probably come from this company by the name of Mysore Paints and Varnish Limited, a public sector company based in the southern Indian state of Karnatak.

Mysore Paints is the sole Indian company that manufactures indelible ink and it has been used in every Indian election for the last five decades.

They also supplied the inks for the last Afghan elections.



The Afghan Experience

On the type of indelible ink used, I would suggest that we should insist for the bottle type instead of the pen type as in the Afghan election there were cases where the election officers got confused and used normal marker pen that were meant for paper for marking voters. The bottle ink would also eliminate the possibilities of election officer touching a voter (in case of male-female sensitivity).


They should know better! Over the lunch with the commisioners, some of them told their experiences observing other countries' election process.

As for procedure, please check on the links provided below.

It's mainly in reference to the Indian system. There are also some other recommendations that insist that the inking happens at the point after verification of name and before issuance of the ballot paper (witnessed by by the polling agents - PACA) and another round of check after the person voted for double check and re-marking if the ink looks faded or tempered (again witnessed by PACA).




The Philippines Experience

On refusal to apply the indelible ink. The Philippines experience might be a good guide.

If the voter refuses to have his fingernail stained with indelible ink, he shall be informed that such refusal will render his ballot spoiled. If the voter still refuses despite being in-formed thereof, the Chairman shall, without unfolding the ballot and without removing the detachable coupon thereof, distinctly mark the ballot with the word "spoiled", and thereafter sign the same at the back thereof and immediately place said ballot in the compartment of the ballot box for spoiled ballots. The voter shall then be requested to depart.

Such fact shall be indicated in the Minutes of Voting and Counting of Votes.

The Egyptian Experience

It is also interesting to take note the Egyptian experience on the supply of indelible ink.

In Egypt all supplies of indelible ink used to prevent multiple voting should be tested in advance by judges at each polling station to ensure the consistent quality of such ink. Maybe here we can suggest for the Wakil
calon and independent observer to follow through this process.

One Day Run OK, Mr SPR?

The EC should conduct a one day test run inviting the public, political parties and media to participate in a mock election so that the public will be familiar with this new procedure and for political parties to make the necessary preperations.


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