Saturday 20 October 2012

Poll registration law to go - Patrick Lee

The EC will see that the regulation will be abolished and reviewed after the next general election.

PETALING JAYA: After the next general election is over, the Election Commission (EC) will do away with a law that governs the registering of voters in Malaysia.

Deputy EC chairman Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said that the Registration of Electors Regulations 2002 was littered with problems, causing many public complaints.

“Next year, after we’re done with the election, we’re going to abolish the present law… The EC has decided that there will be a big working committee to go on every point of the law and to improve it,” he said.

Wan Ahmad said that the law would then be reviewed in full, with help from the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

He said this while speaking at a National Institute for Electoral Integrity (NIEI) forum today.

Wan Ahmad said that Malaysia had the misfortune of having a very complex electoral roll, which he said had been “rolling” ever since the EC was formed in 1958.

He added that at least 50% of the names present on today’s electoral roll had been registered before 2002. Before then, he said, voter registration was extremely loose.

“…forms could be filled up without proper checking. There was no online registration checking. It was completely dependent on the declaration by the person who came to register,” he said.

Wan Ahmad suggested that this was a reason why the electoral roll was so convoluted; a point of contention by various election watchdog groups in recent months.

On top of that, he said that the EC had sacked 250 assistant registrars for not meeting with those they registered before putting them on the rolls.

He added that there were 10.7 million registered voters in the 2004 general election, compared with 13.05 million now. As a result, Wan Ahmad hinted at a mountainous workload for the EC
He was also present at the NIEI event to hear the findings of a study that surveyed the accuracy of the current electoral roll.

Study results

NIEI acting chairman K Shan said that the study showed that 92% of the addresses surveyed were identified as valid. From this chunk, a further 74% were identified as recognisable voters.

From this final group, the study determined that only 31% of the voters stayed in the addresses that they were registered under.

The survey covered 2,400 respondents across 240 polling districts from 60 parliamentary constituencies.

This, Shan said, had resulted in a false representation of the constituency, and would lead to a dilution of “voting wishes”.

He added that the EC appeared to have a lack of auditing and verification exercises to deal with these matters.

Wan Ahmad did not dispute this study, and even thanked NIEI for coming up with it.

He said that he was going to fix a date where NIEI could discuss all parts of the study in detail.

Wan Ahmad, however, stressed that it was not as easy to take care of the country’s electoral roll, enforce regulations and gear up for the polls at the same time.

“The EC has a small secretariat, but to manage the elections for the whole country, my God,” he said.

He pleaded for patience from Malaysians, especially from its civil society, implying that the EC was doing all it could to gear up for the coming election.

Wan Ahmad also said that the EC was going to brief the public on registering overseas Malaysians as postal voters next month.

Revealing little on the matter, he said, however, that overseas Malaysians needed to register as voters first, before they could cast their postal ballots.

On election observers for the next general election, Wan Ahmad said that there would be six, three and nine different NGOs in place in the Peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak respectively.

“We will be announcing them very soon,” he said.

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