The thick blue ink used to stain Malaysian voters’ fingers was supposed to be indelible, so that they could not attempt to vote more than once in Sunday’s elections. However, this seems to have failed.
Opposition parties and voting rights groups are reporting that the ink used was actually rather easy to get rid of. Dozens of videos have been published online showing voters rubbing blue stains off their fingers using household cleaning products.
The polls, which saw an 80 percent voter turnout, were the tightest since Malaysia’s independence. However, Barisan Nasional (BN), the party that has been in power for more than half a century, won a clear majority. Prime Minister Najib Razak was sworn in for a second term on Monday, amidst claims the vote had been marred by various forms of fraud.
The most common complaint was that the ink used in polling stations, which the prime minister had touted as indelible, was easy to wash off. Several voting rights groups said they recorded numerous complaints about this, and hundreds of people took to social media to describe the ease with which they were able to remove the stain.
The Election Commission addressed these concerns Monday by admitting that the ink used in Malaysia was not as strong as the kind used in polls in other countries because it had to be “halal”. However the committee’s chairman, Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof, told reporters he wasn’t worried about this having led to fraud, because voters also needed to present identification.
Video published by Malaysian blogger Bernard Eng.

“The problem, it appears, is that the ink dries too slowly”

Fahmi Fadzil is the political secretary for opposition candidate Nurul Izzah Anwar. He oversaw her campaign in Lembah Pantai, a district of the capital Kuala Lumpur.
I received quite a few calls from local residents I personally know who told me that they were able to wash off the ink with dishwashing detergent. The problem, it appears, is that the ink dries too slowly. It seems people who washed their hands not too long after going home from the polls were able to get rid of the ink quite easily.
Sadly, this was not the only problem we encountered. Our district had 14 polling stations, all at local schools, with representatives from our party monitoring each one. At two of them, we recorded instances of suspicious vehicles driving in and out of the schools while the polls were still open; we were able to block suspicious vehicles from entering other stations. We don’t know what they were carrying, but we worried it could be fake ballots.
“When the polls closed, elections staff asked our party’s monitors to ‘take a break’ and leave the room. Of course, we refused”
But that wasn’t all. In one station, my party’s staff reported seeing a polling agent marking ballots for senior citizens. And in the polling station where I was based, we noticed quite a few foreigners, immigrants from Myanmar, coming in to vote. These recent arrivals to Malaysia had their papers in order, but it was clear to us that they had been given these papers for the sole purpose of casting their ballots. [Other opposition groups have made similar allegations about foreigners having been “fast-tracked” for citizenship in order to vote.] In this same station, when the polls closed, the elections staff asked all our party’s staff to “take a break” and leave the room. Of course, we refused.
All this happened in a heavily-monitored district of the capital. I’m worried about what this means for the rest of the country!
Post written with FRANCE 24 journalist Gaelle Faure (@gjfaure). 

“The ink easily came off when I washed my hands”

W. L. voted in Sunday's election.
I went to vote with my family around 9:30 a.m. At 1 p.m., after lunch, some of the ink easily came off when I washed my hands, no harder than I regularly do. So I took a picture [see photo below, bottom left]. Later, when I went to wash the dishes, practically all the ink came off! [See photo below, right.]
This was not an isolated incident, unfortunately – many of my friends told me they had the same experience.
W. L. photographed her finger after the vote, after washing her hands, and after washing dishes.