Saturday, February 23, 2008

Volunteers : Polling / Counting Agent Needed

I found the mail below in my mailbox, please help to spread this around for DAP. In the meantime, please read , to help PKR. Not sure whether PAS needs anything. Just check out their page or Malaysiakini for any updates.

The mail from DAP seeking volunteers :
Dear friends,

It's Election Time again, and on behalf of the Opposition, I would like to enquire if you would like to volunteer as a polling/counting agent.

Do let me know if you're not based in KL/PJ, cos we also need help in other parts of the country.

Do help me to fwd this to your network of friends/relatives if you think they'll be keen to lend a hand. Please email me privately if you're keen ( ). Cheers.

Med - (DAP)

Read on to find out basically what polling and counting agents do on Election Day...

If any of you feel proactive enough and want to help out actively on Election Day, why not consider being a polling agent (PA) or counting agent (CA)?

A polling agent is someone who sits in a polling stream (the classroom where the voting takes place) and observes the voting process. Each school may have a different number of polling streams (saluran mengundi) depending on the number of voters in that area. Each polling stream caters to a specific age group.

A counting agent is someone who observes the counting of the votes after polling closes at 5pm.

You don't have to be a member of a political party to become a PA or a CA. You just have to be Malaysian and above 21 to register as a PA or a CA, and registration is done through the political parties.

A PA is armed with a copy of the electoral roll for that particular classroom, pencil/pen and a ruler. The PA basically observes the voter as he/she enters the room. The election officer will read out the voter's name, IC number and his/her number on the electoral roll. The PA will cross out the voter's name on the electoral roll to ensure that we know exactly how many people voted in that classroom.

A PA must be alert and take note if there are any irregularities, eg. the voter is female but the IC number denotes the voter is male, the voter is much much older or younger than the IC indicates, the voter is Indian but has a Chinese name, etc. The PA has a right to object and raise questions.

After 5pm, the same PA may actually have to stay on as the CA as well. This is because the opposition parties usually have manpower and resources problems. PAs and CAs for BN operate on short shifts (say 2-4 hours) and get paid for it. This is why they are never short of helpers.

Because we can't afford to pay, opposition PAs and CAs start at 7:30am and stay in the classroom till 5pm, and sometimes stay on as the CA too. If that is the case, lunch will be provided by party volunteers. Opposition party PAs and CAs are not paid an allowance.

If there are enough volunteer PAs, then the opposition parties too can organise two shifts (say 7:30am - 12noon and 12noon - 5pm). Then it would not be too taxing for volunteers.

At 5pm, when polling ends, the CA takes over and observes the counting process. It takes place in the same classroom. The boxes are emptied onto the desk, and the officer will hold up the ballot papers one by one and declare "BN" or "PAS" or "DAP" or "PKR" or "Independent", etc. The officer will then put the ballot paper into the correct party box until all the votes are counted.

Once the votes are counted in your classroom, the box is sealed and the number of votes that went to the respective candidates are confirmed and you all sign off on the agreed results.

Once that's done, you will already know whether your candidate has won in that particular school. All the CAs in the polling stream then send the results by SMS to their election operations centre, so that the centre can tally the votes from all the schools in that area and get an early result on how their party did (unless there are postal votes in that area).

As PAs also will be casting their votes on that same day, the parties generally place the PA in the same school (and if possible, the same classroom) where he/she will be voting, for convenience. However, we can't always guarantee that.

The DAP will be conducting polling agent training sessions at various locations in PJ on a regular basis. If those dates/times are inconvenient for you, we can also arrange to do the training for small groups (say 10-15) at a location and date convenient to you and your friends.

And if you would like to volunteer but don't want to be a PA or CA, do contact me too, cos there's stuff to do during campaign period, such as manning the computers when members of the public drop by to check their status, helping with logistics for ceramahs, distributing information leaflets, etc.

On Election Day, there may be lunchtime food to be delivered to PAs, transport-less voters may need rides to their polling station, etc. There's plenty to do, it's an interesting life experience, you're doing something proactive, and we need all the help we can get!

Please email me ( Med - (DAP) ) privately if you're keen to lend a hand.

Thank you.

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