Unravelling the Mystery of the Extra Ballot Boxes
This post is reproduced from KL Chan’s Facebook page. Although Chan is a dedicated LoyarBurokker and dreams of Lord Bobo almost every night, he has not registered for a writer account.
As I know this is the process on polling day at a typical polling station after 5.00 pm.
- Counting agents from the candidates will witness the EC officer unlock the ballot box and begin the counting process. The counting agents will record the votes as they are unveiled. In the event there is a dispute, such as spoilt votes, both agents will be asked to examine it and agree or disagree before it is logged.
- At the end of the counting, the totals will be noted in Form 14. This form is then counter checked by the counting agents before they sign it. The EC officer also signs this form. (In GE13 some of the Form 14s were digitally photographed and whatsapp-ed back the operations centre).
- The box is then sealed by the agents and EC officer. This process is repeated for all the ballot boxes.
- The ballot boxes with their Form 14s are then transported to the Tallying Centre.
- At the Tallying Centre, the EC officers will begin adding the numbers in the Form 14 which has been signed by the counting agents. The ballot boxes remain sealed and will not be opened unless there is a recount. The ballot boxes are also put aside and kept in case there is an election petition before being destroyed. (If I’m not mistaken the time limit for an election petition is 6 months).
- Meanwhile counting agents also submit their Form 14 totals to their respective candidates for tallying at the operations centre.
- The EC totals MUST equal the counting agents’ totals as both have the same set of Form 14s. If there are disputes, the Paca chief will try to reconcile these numbers with the EC officers.
This system only fails if:
- An EC officer at the polling station refuses to sign or allow the counting agent to sign the Form 14 thus rendering the Form 14 invalid or flawed. At this stage the agent will inform his operations centre, which then sends a lawyer or its PACA chief to sort this mess out.
- The counting agent signs on a form with wrong or fake numbers.
- The EC officer refuses to allow the counting agent to take part in the counting process at which point in time the counting agent can complain to his operations centre and the Returning Officer.
This post is directed at conspiracy theories regarding ballot boxes being “transported” to the Tallying Centre, blackouts (such as the one which did not happen in Bentong) and “extra” ballot boxes mysteriously appearing from thin air.
If the ballot boxes are not taken to the Tallying Centre, how do you expect EC to tally the totals?
Pray tell also how “extra” ballot boxes can influence the outcome of the election if the tallying is conducted via the Form 14s and not the actual ballots at the Tallying Centre.
This post, however, is not meant to explain phantom voters, the mystery of the unregistered person who is registered, buses of voters, vote-buying, the serious issue of gerrymandering, the voter who finds his vote already taken or alien voters.
Disclaimer: These observations are from my observations as a reporter in several by-elections, GE12 and a one-day course conducted by EC’s then secretary Datuk Kamaruzaman Mohd Noor in 2008.
And no, I have never been a PACA.