It is time to reform the way overseas postal and advance voting are carried out, says Bersih 2.0.
Advance and postal voting is like the OSA of Malaysia’s elections.
There is limited information on how overseas Malaysians can register and apply to be overseas voters, although the Electoral Commission allowed overseas Malaysians to vote in 2013. There are also concerns the procedures provide opportunity for fraud to occur.
Specific concerns relate to the eligibility of absentee voters, storage and transportation of ballot boxes in advance voting, access for polling and counting agents, and the possibility of voters appearing both as advance voters and ordinary voters.
What do we want?
Absentee voting to be a choice that is available to East Malaysians working and studying in West Malaysia and vice versa. The processes in absentee voting should be reformed to improve accessibility, efficiency and transparency.
The eligible absent voters are those who apply for absentee ballots prior to dissolution of Parliament and must be from the following categories:
- Military and police personnel;
- On-duty civilians, who will be limited to those with election-related duties on polling day, including Electoral Commission officers and media personnel;
- Out-of-region civilians, who are registered to vote in one of the three regions of Malaysia (Sabah plus Labuan, Sarawak and Peninsula Malaysia), but will be in another region on polling day; and
- Overseas advance and postal voters.
Postal voting will ONLY be limited to overseas voters where:
- they are in countries without any designated overseas polling stations (ie, no Malaysian embassies or consulates); and/or
- they have to travel to another country to vote; and/or
- they are 1,000km away from the nearest polling station. All absentee voting will take place one day before the national polling day.
Voting for absentee voters will be as follows:
- Domestic and overseas absentee voters will be advance voters and ballot counting will take place at the close of advance polling day; and
- ONLY overseas absentee voters who have no access to designated overseas polling stations will be postal voters.
Domestic postal voting will not be available as the Electoral Commission has authority and easy access to local resources in already established polling stations and managing operations for both advance and ordinary voting.
As compared to overseas voting, the commission will have limited resources available and as the diaspora is spread thinly in some countries, this will make it more challenging to only have advance voting.
By offering overseas postal and advance voting, it is providing more options as alternatives to overseas voters.
Polling agents, counting agents and booth agents shall have free access to all advance and absentee voting polling centres.
Counting of votes will be done at the close of advance polling at the polling station. It will be done in the same way ordinary votes are counted, with copies of the tally forms given to the counting agents and faxed to the tally centres in each respective constituency. For overseas votes, advance and postal ballots will be counted at the embassies or consulates or overseas polling stations designated by the Electoral Commission.
All ballot boxes must be sealed and signed by the relevant candidates’ agents at the end of the advance polling day.
The results of all absentee votes will be counted and announced at the close of polling on election day.
What else do we want? Click here for the rest of the reforms needed.
Bersih steering committee
16 May 2017