Investigation report released after chaos in election vote-counting
The Electoral Affairs Commission on Friday released a report after looking into long queues at polling stations and prolonged time taken for counting votes in the 2021 Election Committee Subsector elections.
The report pointed out that long queues were spotted at the polling stations in the morning because the staff at the ballot paper issuing desks were new to the operation of the Electronic Poll Register (EPR) system, which slowed down the process.
It also said staff have to spend some time on handling identity verification of persons who were ineligible to vote in the queue.
After the poll closed, staff later found that the voter turnout counted by the EPR tablet did not tally with the number of issued ballot papers calculated based on the counterfoils of issued ballot papers, with two fewer ballot papers.
The staff did not dare to doubt the data counted by the EPR tablet and spent a long time on repeated checking, according to the report.
After the ballot boxes and election documents were sent to the central counting station, staff later found that the polling staff made mistakes when filling in ballot paper accounts and sealing election documents and materials.
It took a long time for them to make corrections before proceeding to unseal ballot boxes.
During the counting process, some of the ballot papers were jammed when being screened in the optical mark recognition machines, as they were not stacked up neatly.
The commission also made some recommendations, including to rectify the related programming errors found in the operation of the EPR system and optimize the entire ballot paper issuing process.
“The entire process of the vote count and the deployment of manpower should be reviewed, indicators should be prepared on the expected amount of time required for each procedure, and better plans for the occurrence of paper jams in the OMR machines should be formulated,” the report also read.