With concerns about Covid-19 still looming large, senior citizens in Melaka are unsure about whether they will turn out to vote in the state election this Saturday.
Although they have been assured of the strict SOPs put in place by the Election Commission following approval from the health ministry and National Security Council, some who spoke to MalaysiaNow said they are worried about contracting the virus.
Chiew Kam Ying who lives in Taman Bukit Melaka said not everyone who is infected with Covid-19 experiences symptoms, which would throw a spanner in the works for authorities in detecting voters who have the virus.
The 68-year-old who is registered to vote in the Ayer Keroh constituency said this is his biggest fear.
“Of course I’m afraid, but I will vote nonetheless as it is my responsibility to do so,” he said, adding that he has been fully vaccinated and will also receive a booster shot.
Still, he continues to worry.
“The polling centres are sure to be full of people and it might be hard for the authorities to monitor everyone who comes to vote,” he said.
Kamis Saad, 70, is a voter in the Asahan constituency. His biggest concern is voters sharing the container of ink used to mark those who have already cast their ballots. He worries that the virus might be passed from person to person this way.
With just days to go before polling on Nov 20, he is still unsure about whether he will vote or not.
“If we need to share the container of ink, I might not go,” he said. “As a senior citizen, I am part of the high-risk group.”
He is not even sure if his children who live outside of Melaka will return to vote, given the Covid-19 situation.
“They know it is not safe to travel right now, and I wouldn’t be surprised if many other outstation voters feel the same way,” he said.
Chiew suggested that the EC consider other ways of marking voters, such as by dripping the ink on their fingers so that they will not have to come into contact with the same container.
He said this at least would allay the concerns of voters and ensure the safety of all.
Another voter who identified himself by his surname, Chong, said the matter could be easily addressed by voters sanitising their hands before and after they cast their ballots.
Chong, 67, added that this was not a big issue.
“If we don’t use ink on our fingers, it opens the opportunity for fraud,” he said.
When contacted by MalaysiaNow, the EC assured that the SOPs in place for election day were safe and had been used for the by-election in Slim as well as the Sabah state election last year.
The SOPs state that voters need to dip their fingers into the ink pot and then sanitise their hands before receiving their ballot paper.
“Voters will sanitise their hands four times: once when entering the polling centre, again before entering the voting stream, then after dipping their fingers in the ink, and before leaving the polling centre,” the EC said.
The same SOPs will be used for early voting, and a separate voting stream will be provided for senior citizens.