Global Bersih strongly urges the Election Commission to put in place a workable, secure and transparent system to allow overseas voters, including those living in Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia and Southern Thailand, to vote during the upcoming elections in the context of the current Covid-19 pandemic, starting with the snap election for the Sabah State Legislative Assembly.
In particular, Global Bersih stresses the importance of a campaign period that is long enough to allow overseas voters to receive and return their ballots, and recommends a period of at least 21-24 days.
This is to avoid a repeat of the problems faced during the 2018 general election. These led to the disenfranchisement of overseas voters as the overly short campaign period did not give voters enough time to receive their ballot papers and return them to the respective polling station. It also did not take into account public holidays, resulting in an even shorter postage time allowance.
Global Bersih urges the Election Commission to review the overseas voting system in light of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic to ensure that the systems in place are still workable in practice. Limitations arising from the pandemic that have an impact on overseas voters include severely impeded international and domestic postal services, restricted transborder mobility and health risks.
Other important factors to be taken into account are the financial and time burden for voters, the availability of accurate information, ballot security and traceability (from the time it leaves the Election Commission to the ballot box), timeliness and effective ballot distribution to the respective ballot stations as outlined in Global Bersih’s overseas voters reform proposal.
The Election Commission has an important responsibility to ensure that all Malaysians, both abroad and in the country, are able to exercise their constitutional right to vote. Therefore, the campaigning period and voting process, determined and carried out by the Election Commission, must inspire voters’ confidence and facilitate the voting process.
We therefore strongly urge the Election Commission to put in place a workable, secure and transparent system for all overseas voters, including a campaign period of at least 21-24 days.