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Thread: Indelible Ink: UNDP Guide

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    Indelible Ink: UNDP Guide

    UNDP Procurement Guide for Elections in Post-Conflict Countries

    This guide was prepared by UNDP/IAPSO 2005

    Page 5:

    Indelible ink: It has become best practice to use a form of indelible ink based on a silver nitrate solution (usually 5-25 % solution) to mark the voter’s finger to prevent multiple voting. The ink can be applied by a dipping the finger in a bottle, by a marker pen or by spray. As mentioned, the active ingredient in the ink is silver nitrate. Silver nitrate reacts when exposed to sunlight leaving a visible stain on the skin. The higher the concentration of silver nitrate the more visible the stain will become. Prior to deciding the application method and the silver nitrate concentration it is advisable to carry out tests in consultation with national stakeholders, i.e. political parties, the electoral management bodies and relevant civil society organisations. However, it is crucial that tests of indelible ink are carried out as per the instructions of the supplier. The ink has to dry on the skin for a minimum of 30 seconds before any attempt is made to remove it and the skin has to be exposed to natural light before the ink will become visible. Furthermore, the ink has to be stored and handled carefully, e.g. it may not be exposed to direct sunlight before use.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    A report in TheStar dated 21st Mar 2013 stated: “EC: Some parties giving wrong info on voting process”.

    [Please download the attachments to read the diagrammes and the UNDP Guidelines.]

    We are sad that a high public official like the Deputy EC Chairman, Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar, can make such sweeping statements, who even went to the extent of labeling it as “ajaran sesat” (misleading information). Such a statement is uncalled for, and it is alarming that the statement was made without basis. The examples he quoted to back his statement are shallow and misleading.

    He said: “Voters come to the polling stations and question certain procedures. The EC are acting based on certain rules and regulations.” And he expects voters to follow them blindly and unquestioningly. It is obvious that the EC is not used to the new environment where the people are not going to accept whatever is dished out by the EC unquestioningly.

    One glaring procedure which we have been questioning for months is indelible ink.

    We like to know about:

    1. Procurement & cost,
    2. Durability & Date of application of ink
    3. Point of application (before issue of ballot paper or after voting – affect voter turnout),
    4. Fraud prevention (nail polish, glue, local postal voter, Advance voter)
    5. Inspection (PA sitting too far away to see)
    6. Smudging of ballot paper,

    a. Procurement & Cost: Wan Ahmad should take a look at the UNDP Guidelines

    The UNDP recommended:

    1. Procurement should be generic to foster competition. Who is the supplier? Was there open tenders?
    2. Conduct open trials with national stake-holders to get the public to buy into the process.
    3. Specifications on the chemical (silver nitrate) to be used, to be agreed with the stake-holders.
    4. Concentration of silver nitrate,
    5. Ink has to dry on the skin for a minimum of 30 seconds
    6. Delivery time.
    7. Staining with indelible ink to last minimum 72 hours. How long can the ink stain last? How does it tie in with Advance Voting?
    8. Why are local postal voters not marked with ink? They are mainly EC officials and journalists, all involved with elections in one way or another.

    It is obvious that the EC has not complied with any of the guidelines recommended by the United Nations Development Program. These are proven procedures to address cheating in a General Election. Surely the EC is not going to accuse the UNDP of promoting ‘ajaran sesat’!

    Now consider cost:

    In GE 12 (2008. ) the EC reported that for 10.9 Million voters, they bought ink worth RM 2.3 million.

    Deputy EC Chairman during an NIEI Forum in Hotel Singgahsana, Petaling Jaya in Oct 2012 announced that for GE 13 (2013) with 13.1 Million voters, they need to spend RM 10 million on indelible ink. That’s an increase in cost of 350% for an increase in voter population of only 20%! Clearly this demonstrates a lack of transparency in the procurement process which Tindak Malaysia now urges the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to investigate.

    Then the point of application of the ink:

    The ink is applied by Kerani Pengundian KP2 BEFORE voting. This becomes a bottleneck since a voter has only 46 seconds to vote (9 hours polling time divided by 700 voters in a polling station). Applying ink and drying can take anywhere from 35 seconds to 2 minutes. At the maximum time of 2 minutes, only 270 voters will get to vote, which means a turnout of less than 40% (270/700). That will create chaos. Yet, in the news report, the EC claims that a voter has 3 minutes to vote! If every voter had 3 minutes to vote, it will take 35 hours (almost 3 days) to conduct a General Election!


    The obvious solution is a well-tested method applied by most countries around the world – inking AFTER voting. A clerk is stationed at the exit door to ensure that every voter dips their finger after voting. The Election Offences Act can be amended to make it an offence not to comply.


    This procedure is fool-proof, saves time, cost and hazzle. And yet the EC refuses to consider it even though this was suggested by Tindak Malaysia to them in Putrajaya last July 2012.

    Another issue:

    Fraud prevention

    • nail polish: prevent ink from marking fingers.
    • clear glue: prevent ink from marking fingers,
    • local postal voter: no marking of indelible ink,
    • Advance voter: Min 3 days before polling so ink has to last min 4 days and above. Exceed recommended limit.

    Inspection: PA sitting too far away to check against fraud.

    Ballot paper: Fold and unfold 100 million times. Definitely many ballot papers will be smudged.

    Just one item “indelible ink” and there are so many unresolved and unanswered questions. There are more, much more. In fact, 204 of them. They can be found in the Malaysia Electoral Reform Programme – here and here. From this, the only thing ‘sesat’ is our electoral system and the election laws.

    It is very clear that the EC is unable to answer civil society’s questions in an open, transparent and open manner. So they resort to public smearing of NGOs who are dedicated to their jobs and the throwing up of smoke-screen to cover their own incompetence.

    Without a public debate or public forum, the EC’s will be deemed as incapable of carrying its task of managing the General Election. Tindak Malaysia offers the opportunity for EC to redeem its own reputation by hosting a public forum. Let the public judge.

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