PETALING JAYA: Electoral reform group Bersih 2.0 has questioned the absence of a voting guide on the Election Commission’s (EC) website, especially on how to vote.
Steering committee member Mandeep Singh said he found 39 valid methods to mark a ballot paper.
“The information isn’t available on their website. We only got this when we attended the Paca (polling and counting agents) training at the EC.
“Only those who attended the training by EC have this information.
“What is more worrying is whether all the volunteers and EC workers are aware of all these 39 valid methods of marking a ballot paper.
“If they are unaware, they may interpret these other methods as spoilt votes,” said Mandeep.
In the 2013 general election, the constituency which reported the largest percentage of rejected votes was in Cameron Highlands. The seat was won by former MIC president G Palanivel.
In Cameron Highlands, the number of rejected votes (877 votes) was larger than the majority (462 votes) by which the MIC candidate won the seat.
The Segamat parliamentary seat also had a high percentage of rejected votes.
There were 950 such votes, which was only slightly smaller than the majority of 1,217 votes by which present MIC president Dr S Subramaniam won.
“We are not saying that it would definitely increase the number of spoilt votes but the tendency is there.
“At the same time, this instils fear in voters and they may decide not to vote.
“The EC should come forward and use media outlets to educate voters instead of allowing such misinformation to continue.”
Acting chairman Shahrul Aman Mohd Saari said misleading messages circulating on social media platforms contain information that are untrue and will confuse voters but the EC seems silent.
“The messages that we have seen circulating on social media platforms and chat applications are spreading claims that certain methods of voting are wrong.
“There are also several messages that are circulating which say that the secrecy of votes is no longer there.
“Some of these messages are also spreading false information about how a voter can be tracked through the serial number on a ballot paper.
“This must stop. The EC should by right come forward to clarify such misinformation but, sadly, they have been quiet on the matter.”
He added that information on voter secrecy and the proper method to vote should be published to ensure voters are informed.
“The least the EC can do is to upload this information on its website.”
Steering committee member Rama Ramanathan said it was quite astonishing that not even one of the seven EC officers has spoken out in public about wrong GE14 messages that have gone viral.
“The secrecy of votes is one of the most important elements in a general election. The EC should come forward to guarantee that no matter who you vote for, it will be kept secret.
“So many things are not true any more, but the secrecy of votes is still true,” said Rama.
Bersih executive director Yap Swee Seng said EC previously used to educate the public on the general election and the voting process.
“They used to broadcast on television and radio to tell voters to go out and vote.
“They don’t seem to be doing this any more. This is their responsibility, to encourage voters to come out and vote.”
Yap added that instead of Bersih having to answer all these doubts, the EC should take charge of the general election.
Bersih has uploaded EC’s voting guide on its website.