How did unofficial results differ so much from the final tally? A counting agent’s story

See also: this link.

by Michelle Ding Sue Yean

What happened?
Why did the unofficial results vary so much from the final announced ones?

I was a counting agent yesterday. Every candidate should have a Counting Agent (CA) to observe and verify the final count in the Saluran he/she is in.

This final count, recounted as many times as necessary, in front of witnesses (CA)s fr all parties contesting – is then put in a form. The Borang 14. The final count is written plainly there, and is agreed, approved and signed by reps from all parties.

And this is supposed to be final, brought to the main EC centre to be tallied. All ballot papers are sealed in bags and then in boxes. Because all the necessary recounts have already been done at each saluran. Really. We were very careful.

Now each Counting Agent will also bring this signed copy back to their party base, and the count from all the different salurans are tallied there. This is how ‘unofficial’ results come about.

Yesterday, by adding up all the ‘scores’ – it seemed like PR has won, and won big.

But no announcements were made. At the EC’s main counting centres, recounts were requested on seats that BN lost in (even after all the different saluran had already confirmed the count), blackouts happened, mystery boxes appear – and then suddenly – BN candidates are winning. And then and only then, The EC comes out with official result statements: BN has won this seat, BN has won this other seat. Too dodgy.

When our country was born, the EC was formed independent from the executive, as it must be. Today, it answers to the Prime Minister Department. (Kinda like you organizing a contest, you make the rules, terms & conditions, and you are also contesting in it. After that you influence the judge’s decision, and all judge’s decisions are final. )

The EC has therefore, for a long time lost its voice and might I say, raison d’être. Depressing.
This is Mahathir’s doing. It was during his ‘far too long’ reign that he constitutionally made the EC slave of the PMO.

FYI: It takes a 2/3 majority in Parliament to amend the constitution. Except for 1969, 2008, and now 2013, BN has always won 2/3 of Parliament, Sometimes even 90%. And here you don’t really go against your supreme party or you get kicked out.

This is also why our constitution has been amended way too many times and usually for the benefit of a select few. BN. UMNO. And all their cronies.

The fact is:
Democracy didn’t die yesterday in Malaysia, it died a long time ago. The moment the EC ceased to be independent.

We are finally realizing it, which means we are in motion to reclaim it. There is some form of respite in that, I guess. But we also know the journey ahead will not be easy. The way things are going, it looks like it will have to get a lot harder before it becomes better. For our sakes, and for our children and country – The people need to be resilient. We need to persevere.

And we need to take important steps.

Paramount to that is to urgently demand a complete reform of the Election Commission (SPR), detach it from the jurisdiction of the PMO, and give it back it’s voice.

That, I think, would be a very crucial first step to resuscitate our democracy.

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17 thoughts on “How did unofficial results differ so much from the final tally? A counting agent’s story

  1. It’s funny how people get confused between popular vote and electoral vote. Winning the popular vote doesn’t mean you nab Parliament. It’s the electoral vote that gets you Parliament. The popular vote went to the opposition, but it’s the number of parliament seats that determines who controls Parliament. Thanks to the overwhelming number of seats in Sabah and Sarawak (two predominantly BN-controlled states), BN was able to retain its hold on Parliament.

    The disputed fraud cases occurred primarily in the peninsula, examples being the blackouts resulting in miraculous wins for BN and the hordes of phantom voters appearing at various voting stations. However, those aren’t the truly crucial issues. The key states of Sabah and Sarawak are what the Opposition party needs to focus on, should they want to seize Parliament from BN. Harping on about how election fraud has been committed just proves that BN managed to succeed in pulling a fast one over the rakyat.

  2. Regarding this, I’m not “confused” between the popular vote and the electoral vote. Very well aware of the difference. I also believe that there shouldn’t even be this “electoral vote”. It is a relic of older, less efficient, democratic systems. Why are we adopting a system that encourages tactical cheating?

    Try proportional representation instead. Gerrymander-proof, one person, one vote. Immunity to small-scale fraud. (Large-scale fraud still works, but is easier to spot.)

    However, you are spot-on about the need to win Sabah and Sarawak voters. Well said!

  3. Apologies, I didn’t mean to imply that you were one of those that were unaware of the differences between the two. It was a general statement aimed at summing up a key problem with the general public sentiment at being “cheated” out of a victory for the opposition. I believe that the whole popular vote/electoral vote was an efficient method at regulating democratic systems back in the day, but I do agree that it’s really rather antiquated. In a way it does balances out the population problem – larger states = more votes, which would cause an imbalance in the power struggle between parties. This doesn’t really explain why Sabah/Sarawak holds that much more seats as opposed to a smaller state, which is after all what the electoral vote system is supposed to counter.

    There’s a whole host of other systems that would be more efficient than the current fraud-rampant ones, but I fear that our nation isn’t too keen on adopting such a large-scale upheaval of the election system.

    I do believe that despite whatever system we utilize, any sort of real and substantial change must first take place within the ranks of the citizens. A key problem lies within the complacency that we have adopted as a nation. Sure, come election day, we’re all hyped up and bursting with civic sentiment, but what happens during the other 3.5 years in between election periods? As a nation, we are too comfortable in our daily lives to want to put forth any real effort to bring about change.

    I’ve commented briefly about this from LoyarBurok’s website and will replicate the comment here:

    “Most Malaysians want change. Pity they don’t want it enough to actually get out and do something about it. They’re just content in being keyboard activists – changing FB profile pics to show solidarity for the latest Cause of the Week (TM), sharing noteworthy rants and essays on why change should happen or signing various online petitions. decrying against the sheer injustice that has been done upon ..

    These are the same people who speak strongly of democracy and how Malaysia should not let democracy die, but yet they don’t truly understand what democracy entails. They are the same people who cry out for freedom of speech and how they will fight for their right to speak, but they are often the ones who turn on the first person who disagrees with them. To steal a line off a note I read on Facebook, “the people being incredibly upset, many are also the ones who on a normal day, would rather go to a music concert than a protest, would rather watch the Sports news than update themselves on Malaysiakini, would rather stay at comfy urban homes lamenting the “stupidity” of the rural folk while never bothering to visit them or reach out to understand.”

    People speak of change and how it MUST happen so that Malaysia can see a better tomorrow. Well, how many of those same people are willing to shake off the comfort of complacency and go out to actually CHANGE something? The power is in the rakyat. It doesn’t mean the rakyat can rush out once every 4 years to exercise that power and spend the remainder of the period, sitting on their thumbs. By exercising the power that the citizens have only during elections, we are enabling the government to run rampant during the non-election period. They know this, and they are abusing it as much as they can.

    Malaysians want change, but they’re too lazy to work for it.”

  4. Oops, apologies for the long rant. I wasn’t aware that I’d gone on that much, and I apologize for the wall of text o.O

  5. I wish to ask you something that I hope is not too sensitive. What are you doing, or planning to do, for the country?

    Because if your path is not very different from mine, we can merge.

  6. Lol currently I am at a loss on what I can do. There were numerous initiatives on my part to lend whatever meagre aid I can offer, only to have that backfire spectacularly on me. My background lies within the field of political and social analysis, so perhaps those initiatives didn’t exactly utilize my skills. Hindsight on my part, I must admit and that lead to a general sense of skepticism and jadedness that I’m sporting at the moment.

    That said, I’d like to think that there is still a measure of hope within for a better tomorrow and with that in mind, whatever I can do, I shall do.

  7. I agree with the bit that if we want to see changes happening, we need to also help to contribute towards that change. This GE13 has seen the disparity between the urban and rural vote tallies. One clear assumption can be made – access of alternative media. How can Pakatan ‘win their hearts’? How can we help Pakatan to realise that? It’s true, we can lament but it’s also a good start to think, how can we help? Also, i think it’s good for Pakatan to begin looking at methods how the public can help. Sometimes we have ideas, suggestions but know now where to start or who to approach. Perhaps during the non-election period, we can work closely with the state assemblymen, highlighting our grouses (Lim Guan Eng often conducts such townhalls to address certain issues faced by the citizens). But i think our focus here should now turn towards the uninformed lot in the more rural areas.

  8. 1. Since the submarines, every airlifter, helicopter and corvette has come from France. Trust Rafale to come to Malaysia when Najib is done using it to kill the investigation.

    2. It takes more for a Malay in his community to speak his mind against Najib. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see it happen.

    3. This war will ever faster bleed BN white. They spent untold billions to lose 7 seats. Dr M was smart to leave while it was good. N is stupid and indecisive.

  9. The public don’t just sit in their house shaking their legs.
    For example, gathering activities like Bersih and Lynus are proof that we tried to change this country. However, our government doesn’t respect it’s citizen at all, abusing the power of military, and hurting it’s citizens.

  10. This Election is not valid. There must be a re-election. Must claim what is right! We shall march once green light obtained from leaders

  11. Wondering which parliament seat did this writer worked at and how much was the difference between the unofficial and official result. All I can see is random accusation without solid facts. Which place did the blackouts happened and which area did the mystery ballot appears?

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