UNDP supplied voting ink for the 2020 general elections in Myanmar

February 13, 2021

UNDP delivered 113,000 bottles of voting ink to Myanmar prior to the 8 November 2020 general elections at the request of the Union Election Commission (UEC). The indelible ink – or electoral finger stain – is one of the measures deterring electoral fraud.

UNDP supplied the electoral ink to Myanmar in cooperation with the Government of Japan which provided US$1.7 million for its procurement.

The unremovable silver-nitrate-based ink visibly stains fingers of people who have already voted, which helps to ensure that voters cannot cast multiple ballots. Electoral ink has been used in more than 100 countries and is considered an effective anti-fraud measure that complements primary safeguards, such as voter registration and ID verification.

The voting ink arrived in Myanmar by air in three shipments: the first shipment of 32,340 bottles arrived on 29 October 2020; the second shipment of 46,505 bottles arrived on 30 October; and, the final batch of 34,155 bottles on 31 October. The cartons of ink were then distributed by road, water way and air to 315 townships with the support of the UEC and WFP. According to the UEC, the supply of the voting ink reached all intended polling stations on time, ahead of the election date 8 November 2020.

UNDP tested the voting ink in accordance with established protocols before handing it over to Myanmar authorities. The test confirmed the required 20 per cent level of silver nitrate in the ink. The finger stain was tested also over a 48-hour period for removal with soap, alcohol-based hand sanitizer (given its widespread use during the COVID-19 pandemic), and nail polish remover. The stain was completely visible on the nail, cuticle, and fingertip, in line with international standards.

At the request of the UEC, UNDP’s electoral support to the 2020 general elections in Myanmar consisted of procuring and supplying the indelible ink, which was done in a timely and effective manner. UNDP was not requested to provide any other form of electoral assistance.

UNDP provides technical electoral support as part of the broader UN electoral assistance, which is delivered only at the specific request of the Member State (or is based on a mandate from the Security Council or General Assembly). On average, UNDP is providing electoral assistance to about 60 countries a year.