Virus-positive voters to sit out polls

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 23 Sep 2020

PETALING JAYA: Voters who have tested positive for Covid-19 are barred from voting in the Sabah state elections on Sept 26 as new stringent voting procedures during the Covid-19 outbreak were announced ahead of the Sabah polls.

Apart from this group, three other groups of voters are allowed to vote, said Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob yesterday.

Those categories involve healthy voters, voters with symptoms and voters in quarantine stations.

The first group is the normal voters, who have been given time slots and would have to practise the usual standard operating procedures (SOP).

They are encouraged to come out to vote during the allotted time slots to avoid crowding but if they cannot make it, they can still come out and vote after that time slot.

The second group of voters are those with symptoms of Covid-19. They will be allowed to vote but at special places prepared for them.

The third group is for those in quarantine stations. They can vote but must apply to the district health office so that preparations can be made to bring them to vote at special places.

“The fourth (and last group) are those who have tested positive for Covid-19 and are being treated at hospitals. This group is not allowed to vote, ” said Ismail Sabri.

He said the decision was made by the authorities during a National Security Council (NSC) meeting yesterday in view of the rising number of cases and emergence of new clusters in Sabah over the past few days.

He also said 25,000 people have been targeted and are being tested in the four red zones where there have been clusters -- namely Tawau, Lahad Datu, Semporna and Kunak.

“Until Sept 21, the Health Ministry has screened 9,610 individuals, ” said Ismail Sabri.

He also said more stringent measures will be taken on campaigning and polling day.

The crowd number at ceramah will now be reduced to only 30 people from the 250 stated by the Election Commission (EC) earlier.

“Only one or two campaigners can enter a house of voters at ceramah. Only 30 people are allowed at a time. Wear a mask, observe physical distancing, wash your hands, and no touching – not even fist bumps, as advised by the Health Ministry, ” said Ismail Sabri.

He also said that although there is no mandatory screening or quarantine for those returning from Sabah to other states, those who visited red zones in Tawau, Lahad Datu, Semporna and Kunak are encouraged to take swab tests as a precaution.

The National Disaster Agency (Nadma) deputy director-general Zakaria Shaaban said it is still monitoring the quarantine stations in Sabah during the state elections.

“We will follow strictly all that has been agreed to during the NSC meeting, ” said Zakaria.

This way: An Election Commission worker directing the police to the correct queue during early voting at the Sabah state election. — BernamaThis way: An Election Commission worker directing the police to the correct queue during early voting at the Sabah state election. — Bernama

The EC said that besides being more vigilant, people must strictly adhere to the agreed SOP which was approved on Sept 11.

“The main priorities are physical distancing, wearing of face masks, hand sanitising and recording the attendance for all activities involving the state elections.

“The guidelines would be followed strictly throughout all the processes of the elections, ” stated the EC in its guidelines.

The process includes briefing EC staff, nomination, printing and checking of ballot papers, checking of ballots, counting of postal votes, checking of ballot boxes, campaigning, polling day and vote counting.

A government source said that although there were groups asking for postal voting to be allowed for the Covid-19 positive cases and those in quarantine, it is not a feasible idea as time is short.

“The election is this weekend. Nothing is cast in stone as the SOP can still be tweaked and changed according to the situation on the ground, ” said the source.

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Sabah elections , voters , covid-19 , pandemic


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