Indelible ink causes stink at Maldives election

Agence France Presse

Male, January 22:

Indelible ink used to mark voters’ hands and prevent them casting multiple ballots in Maldives’ national elections today scared off at least one voter, but others wiped the mark off with lime juice to show the anti-fraud measure was “ridiculous”.

It was the first time indelible ink has been used in an election in this archipelago nation, but outside the South Harbour polling booth in the capital young men were showing how ineffective it was. Maldivians went to the polls to elect parliamentarians in a vote that is seen as a key popularity test for Asia’s longest serving leader, President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

“No, we will not vote again, but this is to show how ridiculous the marking is,” said a young voter as he rubbed a sliver of lime to erase the mark from his index finger. He declined to give his name. White-gloved women public servants carried out the inking after issuing a ballot paper that was to be “ticked” behind a cubicle and dropped into a sealed blue box. Officials said the ballot casting was following the normal pattern of slow voting in the early part of the day with a sudden rush expected towards the end of the 12-hour voting period.

At the Majeediya School only 43 people had voted in the first three and a half hours out of nearly 600 voters registered there. Maldivians from far flung atolls but who reside and work in the capital island Male are eligible to vote at special voting centres and their ballots are to be counted with the boxes from their respective islands.