SLIM POLLS | Voting has picked up in the Slim by-election, with a 60 percent turnout as of 3pm.
The Election Commission (EC) is targeting 85 percent of the 22,749 ordinary voters will come out to cast their ballot by the end of polling at 5.30pm.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, voters were given time slots for when they are supposed to turn up at the polling stations.
In Trolak Pekan, 96-year-old Renggaiyah Marumuthu, who is believed to be the oldest voter in Slim, told Malaysiakini that he woke up at 6am to prepare himself before going out to vote.
"I fulfilled my duty as an ordinary citizen. By 8am, I was already at the polling centre, ready to vote.
"I hope I will still be around in the next general election to vote," he said.
On his time card, he was supposed to vote at noon, but Renggaiyah said he went out early in case of rain.
At the polling centre, Health Ministry and EC officers reminded voters to observe social distancing.
At SK Aminuddin Baki in Sungai Slim Utara, Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob was seen greeting voters as well as BN supporters outside of the school.
Speaking to the media, Ismail said he hoped that the EC would allow voters, who came outside of the allocated time on their cards, to cast their ballot.
"I was made to learn that there were cases of voters not allowed to enter the polling centre because they did not come according to the schedule.
"It was already agreed that the allocated time is just an encouragement so that there's no need for a long queue. It's not compulsory but encouragement.
"That means if they did not follow the time, they must be allowed to go in," he said.
Ng Lai Chai, 61, said on his card, he is supposed to come at 2pm, but he already cast his vote at 10.30am.
"I wanted to avoid crowds, so I came early," said Ng, who came with his wife and several friends.
Despite some voters not following their time slots, EC deputy chief Azmi Sharom said overall, adherence to the standard operating procedures was improving.
The EC has also for the first time, provided special polling streams for voters who are ill or have high body temperatures. Staffers wearing personal protective equipment closely monitored these streams.
The Slim by-election is a three-cornered fight between BN candidate Mohd Zaidi Aziz, Pejuang-backed candidate Amir Khusyairi Mohamad Tanusi and another independent candidate, S Santharasekaran, who is a former teacher.
None of the candidates are registered voters for the Slim constituency.
The by-election is being held following the death of its four-term assemblyperson Mohd Khusairi Abdul Talib, of BN, from a heart attack, last July 15.