All systems go for Sabah election

  • Nation
  • Saturday, 26 Sep 2020

Final touches: An Election Commission staff setting up a polling centre ahead of polling day today at SRK St David in Tambunan.

KOTA KINABALU: Preparations for today’s polls are complete, with the Election Commission (EC) having sent out ballot boxes to rural areas and the interior.

These ballot boxes and other items were delivered via land and air, said EC chairman Datuk Abdul Ghani Salleh.

“Most heads of polling stations have finalised and completed what is needed for polling day,” he said.

He reminded voters to follow the suggested timeslots to ensure a smoother flow because of Covid-19 standard operating procedure.

“Voting centres will be closed at 5pm sharp so please follow the time suggested,” said Ghani.

Asked if there was a possibility of the centres opening beyond 5pm to accommodate delays caused by health screenings and other procedures, he said voters who had queued up before 5pm would be allowed to cast their ballots.

“We will not open the centres beyond 5pm because everyone would have received their suggested time to cast their ballots. So, by right, everyone should have already been there before 5pm,” he said.

“Those who turn up to vote before 5pm but are still in the queue at closing time, they will be allowed to vote.

“The EC will look at the overall situation and act accordingly,” he added.

Ghani hopes all results will be in by 10pm, but cautioned that this would depend on the returning officer at each polling centre.

“We have prepared 20 helicopters to collect and deliver ballot boxes from the interior regions. If there is bad weather and helicopters are not allowed to fly, there are four-wheel drive vehicles as well as boats to transport these boxes here,” he said.

Given concerns over Covid-19, Ghani gave his assurance that voters’ safety and health would be the EC’s highest priority.

“There will be health officials on duty and also special areas set up to screen and test people with Covid-19 symptoms,” he said.

He said everyone would have to sanitise their hands and have their temperature taken before entering polling stations.

“Those who show signs of being unwell will be taken to the test area for further screening and checking,” Ghani said.

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hazani Ghazali said the police would be on standby at various locations to ensure a smooth polling process.

“Roadblocks will be set up after polling ends – we want to make sure that there isn’t any provocation or problem when the results start coming in,” he said.

Asked if there was going to be a lockdown in any part of Sabah in view of the increasing number of Covid-19 cases, he said: “No.”

“There won’t be a total lockdown but we might see some areas be put under some kind of limit on movement and travel – this is not final yet because we have to discuss it further with other authorities,” said Comm Hazani.

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