Backlog mountain: The process of registering four million new voters

BY A. RUBAN
EC chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Hashim Abdullah said that the commission has been vigorously trying to increase efforts to register more voters since the beginning of last year. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, March 12 ― Recent statistics have revealed that there are 4,060,339 Malaysians who have yet to register as voters, according to the Election Commission (EC).

EC chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Hashim Abdullah said that the commission has been vigorously trying to increase efforts to register more voters since the beginning of last year.

He pointed there was an increase of voter registrations in the third quarter of last year, attributing this scenario to the several campaigns conducted by the EC and other parties.

“The EC expects more registrations to flow in during this period as talks of a possible general election heats up,” he told Malay Mail Online.

The next general election is due by June 2018.

According to statistics by the National Registration Department (NRD), there are more than 18 million Malaysians above the age of 21 as of the third quarter of 2016.

Mohd Hashim said the EC, throughout the year, has prepared counters and one-stop-centres to register new voters.

“Our counters are at shopping malls, recreational centres, housing areas, training centres and even at higher education institutions.

“We also welcome invites by government departments, universities, non-governmental organisations to assist in the registration of new voters,” he said.

Individuals, he said, may also visit any EC offices in the country to sign up as voters.

Every quarter a 150,000-voter backlog

Bersih 2.0 head Maria Chin Abdullah had previously told Malay Mail Online that the voter registrations have been “slow” and accused the EC of not meeting its target.

Noting there are more than four million voters in backlog, Maria had said that in order to register them all, the EC will need to register about 150,000 new voters every quarter, which she claimed was a difficult target to achieve under the current registration system.

When contacted, activist Adrian Lim claimed it was hard to invite an EC registrar for a voter registration event.

“Now, since political parties cannot appoint Assistant Registrar Officers, we have to write in to the EC to invite them to come.

“If we want to do a five-day a week, cannot, because other places need them,” the #BebasAnwar campaign spokesman said.

Registration process

Mohd Hashim said eligible voters will only need to present their identification cards or temporary identification documents that have been acknowledged by the NRD, during the registration process.

Upon completing Borang A, he said, the applicant will have to wait four months until he or she become a registered voter.

He said names of new voters will be released every quarter in the EC’s website and offices for 14 days.

“This is for the objection period and if there is no objection, an applicant will automatically become a voter after each quarter,” he said.

After 2013, political parties were no longer allowed to assist the EC to register new voters.