Officially, this day starts after March 7 midnight this year and ends with the announcement of the results.
However, polling time is fixed from 8am to 5.30pm for Peninsular Malaysia and 7.30am to 5pm for Sabah and Sarawak. For remote areas, mobile teams are utilised to facilitate polling and the polling times may differ in different districts.
The Election Commission normally issues a general public notice about important election matters. They include the polling date, location of polling stations, time of polling at all polling stations, and location of counting and tally centres.
Voting is carried out in gazetted polling stations. Each station will have a Presiding Officer who will supervise the entire voting process. The officer will be assisted by voting and counting clerks.
The commission sets up an election booth at all polling centres for voters to check their electoral roll serial number and polling stream. A candidate is not allowed to open or maintain an election booth at any polling centre within his/her constituency. However, the party can set up an operation room not closer than 50m from the polling centre.
Only voters whose names appear in the electoral roll of a particular polling station are allowed to enter to cast their votes. They have to present their National Registration Department-issued identity card for identification. No one can vote in more than one constituency.
Others allowed to enter the polling station are:
a) Election Commission members and officers;
b) the Presiding Officer and election staff;
c) candidates and their election/polling/counting agents; and
d) anyone who has obtained the Election Commission’s approval.
For the first time in this 2008 general election, voters will have their index finger nail marked with indelible ink before being issued a ballot paper. This measure is to prevent the same person from voting again.
Casting the ballot
A voter casts his/her vote for one candidate only by marking the ballot paper with a sign “X” against the name of the chosen candidate. After marking the ballot paper, the voter folds it and puts it into the ballot box. In this 2008 general election, transparent ballot boxes will be used to replace the traditional black metal boxes.
If there are two simultaneous elections (Parliament and State Legislative Assembly), each of the two ballot papers will have to be marked, folded and inserted in separate boxes marked “PARLIMEN” and “NEGERI”.
Postal votes are mailed, as early as possible, to electors who are entitled to vote by this method. They are normally personnel from the armed forces, Police Field Force, election officials on duty, government officers serving overseas, students studying overseas, and spouses. Postal votes must reach the Returning Officer by 5pm on polling day. The Election Commission says proper procedures have been formulated to ensure the secrecy of the vote.
(Sources: Election Commission, elections laws)