What happened to my ballot paper? — Ranita Hussein

3 May

MAY 3 — Knowing that I was making a long-term visit to France during the election period, I had registered for postal voting and had duly been informed that my application was approved and I could vote at the Malaysian Embassy in Paris. 

So, on April 28, the scheduled date for postal voting, I took a train from Avignon in the south of France to Paris. On arrival in Paris that morning I took a taxi to the Malaysian Embassy (stopping only to drop off my bag at the hotel) as I was anxious to get there in time. There was a group of Malaysians mingling outside the building then.

When I was called into the voting area, my identity card was checked against a register and my name there was crossed out. Then a brown envelope was given to me. This was done by two men sitting together at a table (presumably EC officers). There was an official witness sitting at a separate table there (he was the embassy’s deputy chief of mission) and I turned to him before looking at the envelope. To my shock, the envelope contained nothing inside. In fact, it was open and unsealed; the flap at the mouth of the envelope still had a white protective strip of white paper over the glue!  

The worst part was that there was nothing I could do about it. The witness took down my details and recorded the incident as “Sampul surat yang diterima tidak ditutup dan tidak mengandungi sampul kertas undo. Pengundi tidak dapat menjalankan tanggungjawab beliau” and assured me that the incident would be reported to the Election Commission. In answer to my question, he said that there was nothing else that could be done. There were three independent observers in the room, who then took down my particulars — all of them saw what happened.

I am really angry and upset about this. I am even more frustrated that when something like this happens, there is no quick way or any way at all for the “mistake” to be remedied. Here I am faced with the fact that Malaysians in Malaysia are going to vote on May 5, and because of the fact that an empty envelope was given to me through no fault of my own, my name has been deleted from the electoral role! There appeared to be no remedial process put in place for someone like me to get a fresh ballot paper. Assuming that what happened was unintentional and an accident of the hand or mind, then whoever did it was guilty of careless omission of the first degree! 

I learned later that mine was not an isolated case — three other people were deprived of their votes in Paris on that same day. One case was similar to mine — an empty envelope was handed to the voter. The other two had their names left out of the list of voters.

But even if mine is the only case, which incident, in the view of others, does not make up a percentage that is of any importance or significance to the whole process, the sad fact remains that I was deprived of my right to vote despite making every effort to exercise my right, and have absolutely no way of remedying it! That is no small matter.

Since returning to the south of France, I have lodged a complaint through the Elections Commission website, but have yet to receive a reply.

* Datuk Ranita Hussein is a legal consultant and was a commissioner in the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam).

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.


via http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/sideviews/article/what-happened-to-my-ballot-paper-ranita-hussein/

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