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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. The box is then sealed by the agents and EC officer. This process is repeated for all the ballot boxes.
  4. The ballot boxes with their Form 14s are then transported to the Tallying Centre.
  5. 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).
  6. Meanwhile counting agents also submit their Form 14 totals to their respective candidates for tallying at the operations centre.
  7. 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.


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Posted on 8 May 2013. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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20 Responses to Unravelling the Mystery of the Extra Ballot Boxes

  1. Dottie

    Once Borang 14 has been submitted, it is FINAL. Why was a recount even allowed?

  2. buzzoff

    pr people just stupid assholes. thinking theyre better then anyone else.

    urban voted support pr. wut so special about urbans votes? many orang kampung's are richer then urbanite. (ie felda settlers)

    • Dottie

      Your ignorant statement makes me sad. Who said anything about urbanites being more "special/smarter/better" than rural folks? it's YOU. But then again, you probably also think that RON 95 price hike and GST are great ideas so I shan't ask more.

  3. JJ_

    There was a post written by a PACA, Johan Tse (spelling?). The recount is not done at the tallying centre. A recount is done at the polling centre if there is a <4% difference in the count. The tallying centres add up the counts based on the form 14s collected. Johan wrote about this when rumours were coming thru that Nurul Izzah has lost Lembah Pantai. They did not go asking for the count, they went asking for the form 14 and tally them again. The sealed ballot boxes are brought back to the tallying centre to be stored. Any protests on counts will be done at the polling centres.
    Based on what Johan Tse wrote (he was part of Nurul's PACA team), it is very much the same as what this article has written.

    Cheers.

  4. Mypatriot8

    Wow! A very good article. Great work Loyarburokkers!

  5. Ramli Abu

    I am reposting my comment from Malaysia-Today….

    Folks I have a suggestion…Why don’t we use the electronic system to vote like in India but ours could be modified to use the mycard c/w thumbprint reader.

    1. Insert the mycard.

    2. The system displays the candidates and their logo.

    3 Touch screen to choose the desired candidate

    4. Place thumb on fingerprint reader to confirm with data in mycard chip.

    5. Once fingerprint is confirmed the vote is registered.

    6. Remove mycard.

    7. The machine would reject double voting and fraud mycards and thus

    prevent dubious voters.

    This machine should be standalone with no connections to any network and backed with battery back up so no power disruptions during voting.

    After voting is over the EC chief of the center would in the presence of the candidate’s representatives display the total sum of votes obtained by the respective candidates on the machine’s display. Upon confirmation by the candidate’s representatives this data would then be sent over by email on a laptop to the HQ for announcement.

    This is the only way we could overcome FRAUD and DUBIOUS voters.

    Think about it folks.

    My 2 cents worth.

    • Teik beng

      Hi Ramali,

      Being involved with IT and systems, allow me to give my comments:-

      1. Insert the mycard. -voter may have lost the MYkad, only having the temporary NRIC. The EC officer would go on case by case basis whether to allow the voter to continue: how recent was the temporary NRIC issued, any other identification like drivers license etc. another issue is faulty mykad chips, either broken/bent chip will not be readable

      2. The system displays the candidates and their logo. -visually impaired voters may have trouble here, perhaps audio readouts by the machine can help, but never know, voter maybe both visually and hearing impaired

      3 Touch screen to choose the desired candidate -likewise, visually impaired may require physical button with Braille?

      4. Place thumb on fingerprint reader to confirm with data in mycard chip. -thumbprint readers can be unreliable due to skin peeling of the thumb. Just try getting pass immigration at airport via autogate. Physically, voters may have disabilities like loss of hand or limb, which if mirroring the indelible ink procedure, there have other alternative body appendages to ink (other thumb, finger, or the stump of the last limb-for quadruple amputations)

      5. Once fingerprint is confirmed the vote is registered.-no issue here

      6. Remove mycard.

      7. The machine would reject double voting and fraud mycards and thus prevent dubious voters. -the machine would have to be configured to contain the electoral roll for that saluran(for better control) but if the voter is elderly or bedridden, the EC can allow switching to another saluran. We do have better control, but lose the flexibility of manual human officers.

      This machine should be standalone with no connections to any network and backed with battery back up so no power disruptions during voting. -although backup power is available, some form of network is required to transmit the results to the EC (at least the tail end, would need to hookup to network. That's assuming the classroom has a telephone line for dial up Internet or some form of mobile internet coverage for 3G/edge Internet connection)

      After voting is over the EC chief of the center would in the presence of the candidate's representatives display the total sum of votes obtained by the respective candidates on the machine's display. Upon confirmation by the candidate's representatives this data would then be sent over by email on a laptop to the HQ for announcement (rather than email, secured VPN (virtual private network) would be much secured. The way Internet works, emails pass through multiple exchange points, the IT industry views it as unsecured and open to hijacking. I am assuming the HQ you are referring to is the EC HQ, probably a CC copy is delivered to the representatives)

      But in short, this is still a possible way to reform the electoral process. However, we also have to consider that training has to be given to EC and also the representatives of the candidates on how the system works, how to troubleshoot when the kiosk system fails (trust me, it happens!)

    • Dottie

      Any system/procedure that may/can ensure a fair and clean election will most likely never see its day in Malaysia as long as BN is in power.

    • DRay

      I dun like IT system at all.

      Using IC means you expose yourself in which who you will vote! It is simple matching only……

      Besides, it is even harder to check how transparent the system is… u click candidate A…. but you never know it end up become candidate B….. u can never know….

      Ballot paper at least will remain physical evidence which is hard to wipe out & re-create compare to digital copy….

      Anyway this is what I think only…..

  6. ck0057

    Due to the new amendment in GE13, the counting of each SALURAN is NOW done in the individual polling station after the closure of the voting at 5pm. Unlike the previous GEs, where ALL countings were done in the tallying centre, under the seeing eyes of ALL involving parties.

    This is the part that the writer had missed out, & this is where fraud is most likely to occurred.

    1) Opposition has not enough manpower to supervise ALL saluran's counting, unlike the standing party. Some opposition PACA had to supervised multiple saluran's counting. So, unless he/she was a superman, there would be opportunity for fraud. This is ESPECIALLY so for rural polling stations, which now see large increment of registered voters, out of the norm.

    2) Most of the time, the PACA are been forced to follow the procedure of the KTM, the local EC officer, at his/her own set of 'local' rules! This is why there r reports of KTM not signing the counter copies of the borang14; the counting is done without the present of the opposition PACA, etc etc… Calling the lawyer for help was of little use as in most cases, the help came too late, due to lawyer overloaded with problems & the locality of the polling stations & most of all the KTM just bulldozed through the tallying/ ballot box sealing process, even under strong objections.

    3) The police is biased, as it takes order from the KTM only. This is the case in Kuantan, where the police didnt allow the opposition candidate to supervise the 'stock-taking' of the ballot papers & indelible ink bottles from the same location where the early voting ballot bags were kept.

    4) Contrary to the above-mentioned procedure for local polling station counting, the early poster vote ballot bags were kept at a designated police station nearest to the early vote polling station. It's NOT clear how these were counted. One source told me that it's counted at the same polling station, where the votes were casted. It's later tally with borang15 & sealed. Other source said the sealed ballot bags were send to the tallying centre for counting. So this is a gray area, where fraud could occur.

    5) There were reports of blackouts at some of the polling stations where dispute occurred, normally within 4% of the tally. The borang14 was only signed & the ballot boxes sealed after the recounting. In one incidence in a hot seat in Johor, apparently, after the blackout, the vote went the other way, way above the 4% dispute. The PACA objected but the KTM over-ruled & reconfirmed the new tally in the borang14. Remember, this happened at the remote polling/counting station, NOT at the busy tallying centre.

    I sincerely hope that this little note helps.

    • Hi CK

      1. I don't deny that BN has the ability to have recruit more Pacas than the PR in some seats, especially the rural ones. This, however, does not prove fraud as each candidate is responsible for their own Pacas. And yes, in these sort of cases, it is easier to "miscount" the votes. But to be fair each candidate is aware of the rules and it is up to them to organise their election machinery.

      2. I agree that there were "difficult" KTMs but in the Parliamentary seat operations centre where I was, we had sufficient well trained Paca personnel and a lawyer to sort out the dispute when it arose. It may have delayed the counting etc but it was sorted out ASAP.

      3. PDRM is under orders to take instructions from the KTM on that night whether the KTM is fair or a pain in the ass, so I wouldn't call it bias. Within the Election compound, be it Tallying Centre or Polling Station, EC calls the shots. This however can be challenged later with an Election Petition.

      4. I won't comment on the postal vote.

      5. On the unverified "blackouts", if counting is done at the Polling Stations and not the Tallying Centre I don't see the relevance of a blackout at the Tallying Centre. They tally the Form 14s at the Tallying Centre, they don't count the ballots unless a recount has been ordered.

      It's also important to note that such things http://rembau.com.my/2008/06/rembau-recount-issue… do happen too.

  7. Hitokiri 1989

    I'm not apologist for BN, but so what if original rumors/claims had PR winning some seats. For all we know the information was from some overzealous PR supporters jumping the gun and declaring a win for their people. And also you can't trust every shit you heard on social media. Its not exactly 100% accurate if you don't verify the source. Besides BN could also claim a fix. Early counting had Nong Chik beating Izzah.

  8. Maverick

    …bandied around that in some seats, original tally favoured PR, but after several recounts,..swung towards BN".

    Who were the persons bandying and informing all and sundry that the original tally favour PR? Was it really true? Would this be appropriate because the number of votes cast has not even been finalized and the Borang 14 not duly executed and signed by the KTM and agents? Wouldn't it be irresponsible for the CA inside the polling station to release information which has not been confirmed or finalized? In some polling stations, the coordinator of the CAs even took their handphones to prevent information from being prematurely released, thus causing more confusion and anguish.

    • Jon

      It would have been appropriate because the unofficial results were by tallying of certified Borang 14s at party ops centres.

      It was the EC which hastened to announce BN victories once all Borang 14s were tallied but delayed to announce PR victories until the last minute.

  9. Prav

    There were rumours that in some centres, the Form 14 wasn't filled with due process, and results were "fast-tracked". Is this a possibility?

    Also, it's been bandied around that in some seats, original tally favoured PR, but after several recounts, the tally swung drastically towards BN. Would this be feasible?

    Thanks for the info.

    • Hi Prav

      I can't verify rumours but in the Parliamentary seat operations centre where I was based whenever there was a dispute in the Form 14s ie KTM don't want to sign, or didn't allow the Paca to sign, a lawyer or the Paca chief was sent to sort out the problem. Incidentally our lawyer was a Loyarburoker.

      Can't comment on "bandied" about stories unless you can provide more details so that we can discuss this. FYI there are no "several" recounts at any one seat. EC will only conduct one recount, if I am not mistaken.

  10. Leo

    "The ballot boxes remain sealed and will not be opened unless there is a recount. "

    Please explain how a recount is done. How many boxes are to be recounted and in the presence of whom? Which boxes are to be recounted and what happens if there are suddenly more boxes?

    Interested to know.

  11. Jeff

    This post serves no purpose if it's a reminder of what the actual practice is supposed to be rather the actual. If this post is directed at conspiracy theories then it is clearly unfit as the writer didn't even participate in any PACABA positions and still based on GE12 observation?

    This is misleading and poorly informed.

    • Hi Jeff

      1. This post serves no purpose if it's a reminder of what the actual practice is supposed to be rather the actual.

      What then is the actual? Perhaps you could enlighten us on this…

      2. If this post is directed at conspiracy theories then it is clearly unfit as the writer didn't even participate in any PACABA positions and still based on GE12 observation?

      Please point out the inaccuracies so that we can discuss them. And yes while I have never been a Paca I did observe the process during Polling Day at one of the parliamentary seats.

  12. C-Fu

    gomo kelate gomo