Friday, 26 August 2011

Postal votes to be extended to all M'sians overseas

All Malaysian registered voters residing overseas will soon be able to vote via post.

According to Election Commission chairperson Abdul Aziz Yusof, this will “hopefully happen in the next general election”.

Speaking to reporters in Kuala Lumpur today, he said that the EC is currently in the process of amending the election rules to allow this.

The change in election rules will expand the postal vote from only civil servants and full-time students and their spouses."The most important thing is for the person to register as a voter. They can do this at the embassy. After that they can register as a postal voter," he said.

No postal votes for East Malaysians

He said once the person is registered as a postal voter, a voting slip will be sent to the voter's residence. The slip will then be returned to the embassy where it will be posted back to Malaysia at a specified date.

"The postal vote will be according to the address in the identity card. So if the voter's identity card states an address in Teluk Intan, the vote will go to that constituency," he said.

With the changes, Malaysians living and working abroad including part time students, workers with private companies and emigrants who chose to retain their Malaysian citizenships can now exercise their right to vote.

He, however, noted that the same will not be extended to voters from Sabah and Sarawak who reside in the Peninsular.

"By right, they should change their addresses on their identity card to reflect their current place of residence after staying there for more than three months," he said.

The EC is also looking to extend the postal vote to voters residing in Malaysia, who will not be able to vote as they are on duty.

"This will include journalists, doctors, nurses, flight attendants etc. We will make the announcement on this when the time comes," he said.

'Fair' campaign period for GE13

Abdul Aziz's announcement today was made at a three hour press briefing, where he addressed the eight demands of the coalition for clean and fair elections Bersih 2.0.

Responding to the demand for 21 days campaign period, the EC chief said that this would be addressed in the next general election, but refused to divulge the length of the campaign period.

"It will be fair, not too short and not too long," he said.

He explained that it would not be fair for the EC to only listen to Bersih 2.0's demand as other groups have also met with the commission to appeal for shorter campaign periods.

"Smaller parties and independent candidates prefer a shorter period, so we have to listen to them too," he said.

Among the eight demands by Bersih 2.0, four fall directly under the jurisdiction of the EC, he said.

They are 21-day campaign period, the use of indelible ink, clean electoral roll and review of postal voting.

The other four are free and fair media access, prevention of corrupt practices, putting a stop to dirty politics and the strengthening of public institutions.

Of the former three, Abdul Aziz said the EC meets with all media to "appeal" that fair coverage is given to all contesting parties, works with the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission to curb corrupt practices and holds briefings prior to campaign period to remind all parties against dirty politics.

"I strongly support these demands," he said.

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