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Friday February 1, 2008

Indelible ink to make its mark


PUTRAJAYA: Each polling stream in the coming general election will get two bottles of indelible black ink that will be applied to the left forefinger of voters. 

The Election Commission said this amount of ink would be enough because each stream would only have a maximum of 700 voters. 

“Assuming that 80% of the registered voters come out to cast their votes, this means there will be around 600 people. Two bottles of ink are sufficient,” said EC deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar when contacted by phone here yesterday. 

For this general election, the commission said it would need 48,000 bottles of the ink. This will cost RM2.4mil and the whole procedure will take less than RM1mil to implement. 

Fingers up Election Commission employees (from left) Fahiza Baharuddin, 28, Norazliza Yaacob, 25, and Nor Fazilah Mohd Rasip, 26, showing how the indelible ink will be applied. The special black ink will be used for the first time this coming general election. — ROHAIZAT MD DARUS / The Star
Wan Ahmad said only a small mark would be made on the finger and the ink would stay for about two weeks. 

He said the ink would be imported from India and this would only be done when the general election was announced. 

“We have to first be sure that elections are really taking place. We will then give the signal for it to be ordered. However, this should not be a problem and will arrive from India on time,” he said. 

He said it had to be done this way because the ink had a very short shelf life because of its special chemical composition. 

“It evaporates very easily,” he said. 

Besides India, Wan Ahmad said the Philippines, Indonesia and many developing countries – especially those in Africa – also used indelible ink to prevent election fraud. 

“The Election Commission in India has been using this same indelible ink for many elections. Indonesia used it for their last election in Aceh. In Mali, the ink is applied to the fingernail,” he said. 

Wan Ahmad said he went to India to see what the ink looked like and bought a sample of it.  

“However, our procedure on using it is not based on any country as it has to be developed to suit our own electoral rules,” he said. 

Wan Ahmad said all presiding officers had been given a guidebook which had the procedures on the use of the indelible ink. 

“In our last briefing with them, they have been told of the guidelines on conducting polls, including the use of the ink.  

“In addition to this, the commission will issue another guide specifically on the actual procedures involving the use of the ink,” he said. 

He said that if necessary, the EC would bring all the presiding officers together to give them a demonstration on how to apply the ink.  

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