By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Sept 15: Voters can be assured that no one will know who they voted for in each election because all ballot papers and other documents used will be sealed, stored away and retained in custody for six months before they are destroyed and reduced to ashes.
Today, three large wooden boxes containing ballot papers and documents used in the 12th Sarawak Election for Padungan, Pending and Batu Lintang constituencies were opened and the contents set alight at the Kuching South City Council (MBKS) Depot in Bintawa Industrial Park here.
The disposal process was carried out in the presence of Padungan assemblyman Chong Chieng Jen, Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong, a representative for the Batu Lintang constituency, Election Commission (EC) officers and the police.
Chong explained that the disposal and destruction of ballot papers and other documents used in elections is the last electoral procedure to ensure the secrecy of the vote.
“We are here to witness and ensure the bags and envelopes, which are marked and sealed, are not tampered with. We are satisfied that all the seals are intact, and this means no one has touched or opened the documents after they are stored away.
“So those who claimed and spread rumours that they can check who voters voted for are (speaking) nonsense, baseless (claims) and to instigate fear in voters. This disposal process proves that each and every one of our votes is secret,” he told reporters at the site today. — DayakDaily
The custody chain for ballot papers and documents involves a rigorous process to ensure the integrity of each election starting from the polling station to the counting centre until the announcement of election results.
These documents will be put away in a storage box with all of them signed, marked and sealed to ensure they are not tampered with and retained in custody for six months after the poll before they are destroyed.
“The purpose of keeping the documents for a period of time is in case there is a prosecution or application to invalidate an election such as the need for a recount and other procedures,” Chong elaborated.
Before the documents were incinerated, Chong and others present witnessed the opening of the boxes to ensure they were not tampered with. In the event tampering is detected, all procedures will stop, and an investigation will follow.
“We are here to exercise our responsibilities as the elected representatives for the people in ensuring that their votes are secret,” Chong added. — DayakDaily