Hornbill Unleashed

July 22, 2017

Fears of dirty GE14 with low sign-up rate, ‘tainted’ electoral roll

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:01 AM

Fears of dirty GE14 with low sign-up rate, ‘tainted’ electoral roll HUNGER strikes, protests and sieges. These are some of the “drama” at Election Commission offices nationwide since April but which have scarcely made the headlines.

The reason for all the mayhem is the new electoral roll – of individuals qualified to vote in the next general election, which is less than a year away.

Pakatan Harapan and electoral reform activists said the EC has stopped its usual practice of issuing them copies of the roll, which is updated every quarter.

The last official figures from the EC on new voters were issued a year ago in a mainstream English daily.

In October last year, EC chairman Mohd Hashim Abdullah said only 354,141 new voters have registered between the 13th general election in 2013 and June 2016.

That is only about 8% of the 4.2 million individuals eligible to vote but who have not registered.

But PH officials said the low sign-up rate and the roll itself hide possible acts of electoral fraud that can swing the results of the next general election for those who can manipulate it.

The EC’s latest announcement that it has destroyed voter data for 1994 and 2003 has critics further questioning its independence.

The anomalies in the electoral roll are so serious that PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar said if they go unchallenged, PH will lose many of 87 parliamentary seats it now holds.

Automate it

For PH leaders, such as Nurul Izzah, the low registration rate is the result of three problems, all of which could have been easily resolved.

The first is that for some reason, in 2013, the EC stopped allowing political parties to register new voters.

In a The Star article Hashim declined to justify this decision only to say that there were “many problems” when parties were allowed to do so.

Second, there has been an unusually high rate of rejections for new voters in Selangor, particularly from Malaysians of Chinese descent, said Nurul Izzah.

Last year, the EC rejected 8,286 new voters without just cause, she said.

“More than 88% of those are from Selangor. What is shocking is that 99% of the new voters from Selangor are Chinese.”

Last, the EC would not have to worry about youth not signing up to vote if it installed an automatic voter registration system, said electoral reform group Bersih 2.0.

“We spend millions on systems to track migrant workers. But we can’t spend money to install automatic voter registration?” said Nurul Izzah, who is PKR election co-director.

Such a system would be relatively simple to install, said Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah.

At present, the EC is already hooked up to the National Registration Department’s database so that it can remove the names of deceased voters.

“Similarly, this process can easily be used to register voters once they reach the age of 21,” Maria said.

Dirtiest ever

Frustration with the EC hit a new high this year when it stopped issuing copies of the new roll. The only copy that can be viewed is at EC branches during office hours.

Since the roll contains tens of thousands of names, it is not realistic for party activists to spend days copying names at the EC office.

In Perak, PKR Youth activists brought a portable electricity generator and their own photocopier to make copies.

When the Perak EC refused to accept his objections over suspected phantom voters, Hutan Melintang assemblyman S. Kesavan camped out in front of the commission’s office and launched a hunger strike.

After failing to get a response from the EC over its perplexing decisions, Amanah Youth vice-chief Shazni Munir Mohd Ithnin padlocked the gates of the EC headquarters in Putrajaya, trapping everyone inside.

He was later charged with causing public nuisance over the stunt but said the EC’s decision was suspicious.

“What are they hiding from us? If they say that there is nothing wrong with the electoral roll, then what are they scared of?”

Those who have scrutinised the roll found examples of possible fraud, such as the more than 4,000 “new” voters in Wangsa Maju.

Or the more than 28,000 postal votes from military personnel inserted at the last minute, said Nurul Izzah.

For Maria, the latest revelations only further confirm that the electoral roll has to be cleaned up and audited.

As it stands now, said Nurul Izzah, if the EC does not deal with problems in the roll, GE14 will be the “dirtiest ever in history”.

Source : The Malaysian Insigth by Sheridan Mahavera



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