Veterans say army votes secret, but want govt guarantee

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Source: Free Malaysia TodayMohamed-Arshad-Raji-2

PETALING JAYA: National Patriots Association (Patriot) president Brig-Gen (R) Mohamed Arshad Raji has urged the heads of the country’s security forces to assure those serving under them that their votes will not be traced in an election.

He said armed forces chief Gen Raja Mohamed Affandi Noor and inspector-general of police Mohamad Fuzi Harun should issue a statement to the men and women under their charge that they may vote without fear or favour.

He said they should inform all the officers that “voting is also their patriotic duty.”

He said the association had over the past few weeks received expressions of concern from numerous individuals, especially those in the security forces, about the whether their ballot papers could be traced.

“Our short answer to this is: No, it’s almost impossible to trace. Hence, your vote is a secret,” he said in a statement today.

Arshad said although it is “theoretically” possible to trace the papers to identify who cast a particular vote as each paper has a serial number, it would be a messy and tedious exercise.

He said a court order would need to be obtained first, and one would need to sort through thousands of ballot papers from among the numerous boxes in an electoral constituency.

“Tampering with ballot papers in sealed boxes after the election is illegal,” he said.

“The boxes will have to be kept for six months before their destruction. This duration of six months is for any eventuality of a legal challenge to the result,” he added.

Arshad also said the current electoral practice made tracing of an individual’s vote impossible.

“This is because in the voting room a first clerk reads out your name and IC number, and then crosses out your name. A second clerk paints your finger. A third clerk tears out a ballot paper, stamps it, and passes it to you,” he said.

“There is no cross-reference between the first and third clerks. The ballot papers are issued in sequence of whoever comes first. Hence, there is no record of who receives which serialised ballot paper.

“Therefore your vote is your secret,” he said.

Arshad said the enquiries from members of the security forces on the issue showed that they were politically conscious.