Wednesday, July 8

Excited to be first voter under election ‘new normal’

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Muhamad Muhaidin casts his vote. — Bernama photo

PEKAN: Cpl Muhamad Muhaidin Haripen yesterday created history when he became the first person to vote under the ‘new normal’ for elections in the country.

The 36-year-old, who was the first early voter to cast his vote in the Chini state seat by-election, said the voting process was different from the three general elections that he had previously participated in.

The acting chief of the Chini police station said this time, he had to abide by the special standard operating procedure (SOP) drawn up by the Election Commission (EC).

“We first had to register for polling at the entrance and observe social distancing. When we got to the first point, our body temperature was screened and we had to use the hand sanitiser, then when we entered (the premises), we used the hand sanitiser again, before the EC officer marked us with the permanent ink, and then we put on the gloves and mask before voting,” he said.

The polling centre in the Chini Police Station Information Room was open from 8am until noon to allow 18 early voters comprising police personnel to vote.

Preventive measures against the spread of Covid-19 were enforced during the early voting process, such as social distancing, using hand sanitiser, wearing masks and gloves as well as screening of body temperature.

Muhamad Muhaidin said while previously voters would dip their index finger into the election ink, this time they would just offer it to be brushed with ink.

The brush would then be discarded to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

After that, the third polling clerk put plastic gloves on him and only then would he mark the ballot paper.

Another police personnel Cpl Wan Nur Eza Ilmi Wan Zahari, 31, said he was excited about voting during the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) period as this was the first time this occurred in the history of the country’s election process.

“Not everybody gets to vote in such conditions – this is a precious moment for me,” he said.

Also present at the polling centre were Chini by-election managing officer Datuk Zaliza Zulkifli, and the three candidates – Barisan Nasional’s Mohd Sharim Md Zain, 41, and Independent candidates Tengku Datuk Zainul Hisham Tengku Hussin, 64, and Mohd Shukri Mohd Ramli, 49.

There are 20,990 registered voters for the Chini by-election, comprising 20,972 ordinary voters and 18 early voters.

The voters comprise 10,269 men and 10,721 women. — Bernama