Sabah state poll set for Sept 26, EC aims 70% turnout


THE Election Commission (EC) has set the 16th Sabah state election on Sept 26 with early voting on Sept 22, while the nomination day is scheduled for Sept 12.

EC deputy chairman Dr Azmi Sharom said more than 1.12 million voters will be able to cast their vote in this election, which was triggered by the dissolution of the state assembly on July 30.

“Despite the concerns on the Covid-19 pandemic, the EC is expecting a 70% voter turnout for this election as what we have seen in the Chini by-election,” he told a press conference after chairing a special meeting for the polling proceedings in Kota Kinabalu, yesterday.

Azmi said the EC will use the electoral register that is updated until July 29, 2020, and it expects the overall cost for the snap polls election to be about RM186 million.

Azmi said the EC, which received the dissolution of the 15th state assembly on that day, will carry out the procedures to hold the election accordingly.

“So far, we have not yet been notified by the court on any changes regarding the decision of the dissolution. So we will carry out the duty as it is,” he said.

Earlier, the Kota Kinabalu High Court set Aug 21 to make a ruling on whether the decision made by the Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Juhar Mahiruddin to dissolve the state assembly is justiciable.

Despite the Covid-19 outbreak, Azmi said the EC does not have any plans to extend the polling hours beyond 30 minutes to ensure voters are able to cast their vote.

Similar to the Chini by-election, the EC will give a 30-minute extension on the voting time as eligible Malaysians can cast their ballots from 7.30am to 5pm, compared to 8am to 5pm in GE14.

Political analysts and the public had previously urged for the EC to prolong the voting hours amid the Covid-19 pandemic impact to the polling process, with some suggesting that it may take more than one day to complete the electoral process.

Citing the Chini by-election held on July 4, as well as the upcoming Slim state legislative election scheduled on Aug 29, Azmi said the EC is ready to emulate the same procedure and model into the Sabah state election.

“However, based on our experience in Chini by-election, while observing the health guidelines, we still managed to conduct the election in a perfect condition with 70% turnout.

“It is also the same rate during the general election that was held without Covid-19.

“That means with the SOPs, we can still maintain a high turnout, which means voters have adequate time to cast their vote,” Azmi said.

On the postal voting requested by Sabahans living out of the state, Azmi said it is not possible to do so for the upcoming state election, as the request requires thorough preparation.