The Sabah State Election: Voting during the pandemic

It’s Election Day today!

I got inked!

Credit must be given to our Election Commission (SPR) for all their efforts in preparing us for voting day. I am of course disappointed that postal voting was not made available for Sabahans living in West Malaysia but I accept that this is an unprecedented situation for us. Covid-19 itself was unprecedented for us, what more a snap election during the pandemic. Overall, I am satisfied with the social distancing measures which were in place for this election. A big thank you to the SPR staff and volunteers who made my experience a relatively pleasant one.

I attempted to head to my voting place at around 10:00am and as I was approaching the school where I was supposed to vote at, there was heavy traffic, lots of cars parked by the road side and it seemed to be very crowded. Lucky for me, a friend of mine was already there and told me that there is a huge crowd at that time and that his mom had been queuing for 1 hour 15 mins. He told me I should bring a bottle of water, a fan, a book, a phone charger, a power bank, sunscreen and an umbrella! Much like going to the beach!

Traffic congestion around the voting station

I decided to turn around, head home and headed out again at around noon. This time, I packed my “beach bag” with everything my friend told me to bring with me in anticipation of a long waiting time. I headed out at around 11:35am and reached the polling station at around 11:45am.

Upon reaching the main entrance of the school, the first stop was the temperature checks station. I was told to sanitise my hands with the hand sanitiser made available at the 1st stop. My temperature was taken and I was cleared to proceed to the main school hall where I went to check where my exact voting room was.

Spotted at the voting station!

I was given a slip indicating where I was to head to next. There are SPR (Election Commission) staff around who will guide people to the designated places for voting. I headed to my designated voting room which was on the 2nd floor. There was a queue when I got there all the way down the stairs. There were not too many people in the queue so the “long queue” was more due to social distancing measures. The queue moved quite quickly. I only stood in the queue for a total of 12 minutes! (Yes, I watched the time)

I am to vote at Block D…

There was an SPR officer who came out to check on people queueing at the bottom of the stairs, to ask if anyone is pregnant or not feeling too well. They would give priority to these groups of people. As I moved closer up the queue, the SPR officer proceeded to check my identification card and this is the only time I was asked to remove my face mask for the officer to make sure I look like my photo in my identity card (“IC”). She would go on to tell me to put my mask back on and that I do not need to take it off again when I reach the voting room.

My view from the 1st flight of stairs. I was at Saluran 10 which was another flight of stairs away…

Only 2 voters will be allowed in the voting room at any given time. There are markings on the floor to ensure we kept a distance away from the 3 SPR officers who we have to go before. The 1st officer will check your IC and tick you off her list. You will then move on to the next officer beside her to dip your left index finger in the indelible ink. The 3rd officer will be the officer who hands you your ballot paper and will tell you to sanitize your hands before you proceed to cast your vote.

There is only 1 way into the school and 1 way out, unlike the previous election 2 years ago where we entered and exited through the main entrance. This time around, we had to exit through the back exit, which I believe is for social distancing purposes.

All in all, it was an easy and swift process for me. The only thing I needed from my “beach bag” was my fan because it was rather hot when I was queueing at the stair to get to my voting room.

All in all, I was done in under 20 minutes.

My “beach bag”, umbrella & I!

And, now…we wait.

I hope SPR will not make us wait till past 4:00am to announce the full results this time round.

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