EC fears sudden hike in number of voters with automatic registration

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KUALA LUMPUR: The Election Commission (EC) says it needs to conduct an in-depth study before implementing automatic voter registration for Malaysian citizens who reach the age of 21.

Its chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said this was because if automatic registration was allowed, there would be a sharp increase in the number of voters in certain constituencies.

He said although there were calls from some political parties to implement the proposal, the EC did not want to be made a punching bag.

“If automatic registration is implemented, the EC would depend 100% on data from the National Registration Department (NRD) and it would be difficult for the EC if there are problems like incomplete addresses or information errors.

“We have to be careful. It is easier said than done. For example, if there is a sudden increase to 500,000 voters in a certain area as a result of the automatic voter registration, the EC would be regarded as not clean.”

Abdul Aziz said this when opening a by-election seminar themed, “The Role of the Media, Issues and Political Parties”, jointly organised by the Special National Project (Media, Democracy and Electoral System), National Professors Council (MPN) and the electoral research unit of the International Islamic University Malaysia, here, yesterday.

PAS Youth had been pressuring the government to implement automatic voter registration for citizens reaching the age of 21 and had launched the Auto21 campaign in July.

Abdul Aziz said the EC was still facing problems with regard to voters’ addresses, as many who had made the request for change of address to a new one with the NRD did not update the address information in the EC data.

He said the EC was also looking at the suitability of conducting online voter registration as there were still many errors via the manual method of filling up the registration form.

Abdul Aziz said the EC was open to suggestions and ideas from independent professional bodies like MPN for smooth implementation of improvements to the electoral process.

On the redelineation of electoral boundaries, he said this was necessary as the number of voters was expected to increase to 18 million by the 14th general election due by 2018.

“The redelineation exercise, the sixth in this country, is to enable the elected representatives to get closer to their constituents and serve them more effectively,” he said. — Bernama

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on November 14, 2014.