Supplementary electoral roll: Improve display, objection process

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Source: freemalaysiatoday.com

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) welcomes the 14-day public display of the draft supplementary electoral roll for the first quarter of 2019 from 30 April to 13 May 2019.

The roll contains 26,136 applications from new voters and 11,655 applications for change of voting constituencies in accordance with Regulation 13 of the Election (Registration of Electors) Regulations 2002.

However, based on experience, Bersih 2.0 believes there is room for improvement in the display and objection processes.

Up until the fourth quarter of 2016, the Electoral Commission had issued the draft supplementary roll in database format to enable credible stakeholders to analyse the data in an efficient and effective manner.

But since then, the Electoral Commission has ceased issuing the supplementary roll in such database format. This has taken place around the time when dedicated data watchdog teams such as the Malaysia Electoral Roll Analysis Project (Merap) started noticing an increasing and illegal movement of voters since the third quarter of 2016.

Even though the database format had been made available after the the 2018 general election, the draft supplementary roll on display since 2017 does not contain sufficient data compared to before. Important information such as addresses of voters have been left out – which renders effective and efficient analysis impossible.

The change in data format is unexplained and alleged by Merap to be a measure to prevent the effective and efficient detection of widespread electoral roll malpractice leading up to the 2018 general election.

In the run up to the general election, there were many instances of abuse of addresses. For example, high numbers of voters were being packed into single addresses or an army camp which was still under construction or non- existence addresses.

Although the Ministry of Home Affairs has introduced measures to tighten up control to prevent the falsification of addresses on MyKad so as to avoid a recurrence of such offences, there is no guarantee that such abuses can be eliminated completely.

Although Regulation 15 of the Election (Registration of Electors) Regulations 2002 allows for valid objections to be raised following a public display, the law has been abused by some. In 2017, a certain party made blanket objections based on the racial profile of those who applied to be voters.

In view of the above, Bersih would like to propose the following :

  • Implement a programme where credible stakeholders are admitted as accredited data analysts and given access to the draft supplementary roll in database format, with detailed data such as addresses and sources of registration. Such data should also be provided without charge. The accredited data analysts are to submit their findings to the Electoral Commission and undertake not to abuse the information provided to them.
  • Allow accredited NGOs to observe the objection process to ensure no further abuse of Regulation 15.
  • Provide sufficient time to voters whose names have been objected to, to contact the Electoral Commission. Furthermore, reasonable effort must be made to contact voters whose names are being objected to.
  • Investigate electoral roll malpractices that occurred in 2016 and 2017 and initiate legal action in accordance with Section 3(1)(a) of the Election Offences Act 1954, which states that any person who knowingly makes any false statement on or in connection with any application to be placed on any register of electors shall be liable, on conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to a fine not exceeding RM5,000 and loss of his or her right to vote for five years. If the convicted person is an elected representative, he or she has to vacate office.

Bersih 2.0 stands ready to assist the Electoral Commission to further improve its transparency and management of the display and objection process for the draft supplementary electoral roll.

Bersih 2.0 steering committee

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