The Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Election Commission (EC), Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof and Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar, have said that EC officers were following procedures when they noted down the serial numbers of ballot papers issued to each postal voter on the EC’s list of postal voters (Malaysiakini, “EC vouches for confidentiality in postal voting“, 26 April 2013).
They further stated that it was normal for serial numbers to be noted on the Declaration of Identity (Form 2) that accompanies postal ballots.
While it is true that serial numbers of ballot papers are recorded on the Envelope A that encloses the postal ballot as well as on the Declaration of Identity (Form 2) that accompanies it, the serial numbers of the ballots should not be recorded anywhere else.
The serial number that is printed on each Form 2 is compared with the serial number on the Envelope A at the time the postal ballot is opened. If the serial numbers concur, the Form 2 with the voter’s name is then sealed up and signed across the seal by the candidates’ agents before the Envelopes A containing the ballot papers are opened. In this way, voter secrecy is preserved because when the Envelopes A are opened, there is no way to match the ballot papers to the names on the Form 2 without breaking the seal on the packet containing the Forms 2. It is therefore critical that no other record of the serial numbers of the ballot papers issued to individual postal voters exists which can be used to breach electoral secrecy.
This is in fact specifically provided for in sub-regulation 7(2) of the Elections (Postal Voting) Regulations 2003 (“2003 Regulations”) provides that:
“A list shall be made of the persons to whom postal ballot papers have been sent but without showing the particular ballot paper issued.”
Writing the serial number of the ballot paper issued directly contravenes sub-regulation 7(2) of the 2003 Regulations.
MyOverseasVote finds it appalling that the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the EC are so ignorant of their own regulations, and recommends that they should in future investigate and consult with their own legal team before blindly defending their officers’ mistakes and misfeasances.
To mitigate the risk of breach the 2003 Regulations, we call upon election agents to ensure that any such lists of postal voters have been sealed up and signed across the seal by the agents in accordance with regulation 11 of the 2003 Regulations. If this has not been done, they should contact their returning officers to ensure that it is done immediately. They should then again ask to inspect the sealed packets when postal ballots are opened on 5 May.