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Sunday, March 18, 2012

How votes are bought in Malaysia and the polling booth orientation (and how to spoil your vote)

Update: for those whose votes have been bought (because they badly needed the money) as explained in the article below and you are concerned at the terrible state that Malaysia is in and want to do your part, spoil the pre-marked ballot paper that had been given to you by crossing the other box or boxes as any ballot paper with more than 1 cross (mark) will be considered as spoilt and will not count. Perhaps this is why sometimes we get an unusual amount of spoilt votes?

During my training as a polling and counting agent for the 2008 elections, my trainer explained to me how votes are bought by the corrupt UMNO/BN.

It all starts with a voter going in to the polling station with a pre-marked fake polling ballot in favor of UMNO/BN candidate hidden in his pocket and putting that pre-marked voting slip into the ballot box, then taking out the unmarked voting slip out of the polling station. However, first I will explain how the much much earlier orientation of the privacy shield at the polling booth makes cheating very difficult.

Earlier orientation of privacy shield at polling booth which makes buying of votes difficult

It seemed some time in the past, the privacy shield was orientated away from the polling agent and so when the voter is at the polling booth, his back is facing the polling agent. See Figure 1 below (click to enlarge):

Figure 1: Earlier layout of privacy shield and polling station which made bying of votes difficult

So it seems that polling agents will be able to observe the back of the voter at the polling booth and while no person other than the voter himself will be able to see him marking the ballot slip, he will be unable to take out the pre-marked voting slip from his pocket and hide the real unmarked polling slip in his pocket without being observed, put the fake pre-marked ballot slip into the ballot box and take the unmarked genuine polling slip out of the polling station.

Orientation of privacy shield to facilitate cheating

In the 2008 and prior general elections, the privacy shield was deliberately reoriented to face the polling agents and the voter's back is facing away from the polling agents can see only the legs of the voter while the backside and upper body is hidden from the view of the polling agents (see figure below, click to enlarge):

Figure 2: Orientation of privacy shield 2008 and "prior" which enables cheating

Thus to start off, a cooperating voter is given a fake pre-marked (in favor of BN) polling slip to hide in his pocket, walks into the polling station and is given a genuine polling slip, take the slip to the polling booth and now his back is facing away from polling agents and only his legs are visible.

He hides the unmarked genuine polling slip into his pocket unseen by the agents, take the pre-marked false ballot slip and put it into the ballot box and walks out of the polling station unhindered.

At a secret location the first voter exchanged the unmarked genuine polling slip for a pre-arranged sum of money.

The genuine polling slip is pre-marked in favor of UMNO/BN and is given to the next voter with instruction to put that into the ballot box and take out the unmarked ballot slip in order to collect his loot.

The second bought voter goes in and is given a genuine unmarked polling slip, goes to the polling booth and again hide the unmarked polling slip in his pocket unseen, goes to the ballot box, puts in the pre-marked slip and walks out of the polling station with the unmarked polling slip (genuine) undetected.

Again at the secret location, he exchange the unmarked polling slip for money and that unmarked polling slip is pre-marked for the next voter and the whole process is repeated until the end of polling.

Thus in this way the person/party who wants to buy votes ensure that the bought voter actually vote for the selected candidate.

The "new" orientation of the privacy shield as shown in NST

I saw the new arrangement of the polling station in New Straits Times and it is shown with the original orientation of the privacy shield facing away from the polling agents with the whole of the back of the voter visible to the polling agents which must be enforced at all cost. This is as it should be and and was the orientation used in the distant past (see figure below):

Previous and "new" layout of polling booth and polling station

Actually, the diagram in NST may be slightly different from the above which is reproduced from memory, but the essential relation of the polling agents, the voter and the privacy shield is as shown. That diagram I believe is given by the Election Commission. If anyone has that diagram given by the Election Commission anywhere on the web, hope you can leave the URL in a comment below.

Thus I hope those doing the training for the upcoming 13th General Election should inform the potential polling agents and all polling agents must ensure that this orientation of the privacy shield is adhered to.

Please spread this information to as many people as you can to reduce buying of votes.


democracy4now said...

Halo friend,
You point out a likely election fraud which is well known in election circles-but not exactly well practiced. The culprit could be found out under numerous circumstances eg if anyone of the voters involved divulge the arrangement; if Election administrators refuse any blank/fake ballot in the ballot box etc.
However the important point is the solution you proposed: to get the polling cubicle to face the polling agents-which may risk compromising the secrecy of the vote -which can be a more regular problem! With mobile cameras so prevalent someone may well take a photo of how you vote from beside you!
So a better solution may be not to make the cubicle face the polling agent-but to revert to the position where it face away from the agents. But design the cubicle in such a way not to shield the upper and lower part of the voters body so that he/she cannot take anything out of his/her pocket during the time he/she spent inside the cubicle. We need to refrain from being overzealous to stop a likely but occasional fraud by going too far and risk the secrecy of every voter's choice in the process.

Anonymous said...

Interesting! Thanks for explaining. Now, I guess, we'll see lots of BN voters with remarkably long sleeves enter the booths.