EC: Malaysians along border may soon be able to vote via post

by BERNAMA / pic by BERNAMA

MALAYSIANS living in border countries or zones, such as Singapore and Southern Thailand, may soon be included in the list of eligible postal voters for the next election, said an election commissioner.

“It’s being looked at seriously,” said Zoe Randhawa, a board member of the Malaysian Election Commission (EC).

She told Bernama this was one of the host of improvements the EC was working on implementing soon, partly due to COVID-19.

Although overseas Malaysians are eligible to vote via post since 2013, Malaysians living in Kalimantan, Brunei, Southern Thailand and Brunei are not. The reasoning was that they could easily cross the border to cast their vote.

However, COVID-19 has put a stop to that as borders remain closed for the foreseeable future. Almost half a million Malaysians live in Singapore alone.

Many are expecting Malaysia to hold its next general election within a few months, following Gabungan Rakyat Sabah’s (GBR) recent win in Sabah. GBR is part of Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition. The prime minister also indicated he would be open to holding GE15 after a win.

For the 2018 General Election, the EC received 7,979 postal voter requests, and 3,653 absentee voter requests.

Randhawa said another improvement the EC was working on was to shorten and simplify the postal voting registration process, adding it was undergoing testing at the moment.

She said the EC could not confirm the new system would be in place by GE15 should it be held next year.

“We really need to test the system and we need to make sure that they are fully able to withstand the pressure of mass applications and mass processing,” she said.

She also said the EC was fully cognizant of the complications brought on by COVID-19, and was looking into increasing voting time, polling places and staff to reduce the risk of transmission.