We didn’t think it could be done, but Malaysians proved us wrong!
We didn’t think it could be done, but Malaysians proved us wrong!
The Election Commission is sabotaging its own overseas postal voting system, which was established after the 2012 Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reform, say MyOverseasVote and Global Bersih
In 2013, Malaysian voters living overseas (except in Singapore, southern Thailand, Kalimantan and Brunei), were able for the first time to vote by post, following the recommendations of the 2012 Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reform. In 2013, the delivery and return of Malaysian overseas postal votes was undertaken by Wisma Putra, with Malaysian overseas postal voters filling out their postal votes at Malaysian embassies and high commissions overseas.
For the 2018 general election, the Election Commission has announced that postal ballots for Malaysian voters living overseas will be sent by Pos Malaysia (PosLaju), and will need to be returned by voters themselves so that the postal ballots are received by the relevant constituency returning officer by 5pm on polling day, 9 May.
However, by setting a short campaign period of only 11 days, the Election Commission has effectively sabotaged its own overseas postal voting system. Postal ballot papers can only be printed after nomination day, when the candidates for each constituency are known. Between nomination day on Saturday, 28 April, and polling day on Wednesday, 9 May, there are only 6½ working days. 1 May is Labour Day, while 9 May has been gazetted as an additional public holiday for the general election. It is believed that the earliest day that overseas postal ballots can be sent out is on 2 May, after the Labour Day public holiday, leaving only 4½ working days for ballots to be sent out and returned by courier.
Pos Malaysia’s website shows that delivery times for their international Express Mail Service are 2–4 working days for Australia, 3–5 working days for the United Kingdom, 3–6 working days for the United States and Germany, 4–5 working days for New Zealand, 4–6 working days for France, 4–7 working days for Ireland, and 5–7 working days for the Netherlands and Italy. Many Malaysian overseas postal voters may therefore only receive their postal ballots after polling day on 9 May, certainly too late for them to be returned in time to be counted.
MyOverseasVote and Global Bersih calls upon the Election Commission chairman to explain on an urgent basis how overseas postal votes will despatched in time for them to be returned by 5pm on 9 May. If Malaysian overseas postal voters are denied their right to vote due to the Election Commission’s sabotage, MyOverseasVote and Global Bersih will assist them to bring legal action against the Election Commission and the Malaysian Government.
Global Bersih and MyOverseasVote (MOV) strongly condemn the recent decision by the Election Commission (EC) to fix a short 11-day campaign, culminating in polling on a Wednesday, which places yet another unreasonable obstacle in the way of millions of overseas Malaysians voting in the upcoming 14th General Election (GE14).
According to recent United Nations estimates, the number of Malaysians abroad soared to 2.7 million in 2017 from less than 1.3 million in 2010 (1). As most of the Malaysian diaspora are recent emigrants, it is likely that the majority are registered voters. Of the total of 15 million registered voters, it’s also likely that a significant proportion of these are living and working overseas.
Yesterday, the EC announced that polling day for GE14 will take place on Wednesday, 9 May 2018, only 11 days after nomination day on 28 April.
The majority of overseas Malaysians – all those who live and work in Singapore, southern Thailand, Brunei and Kalimantan (Indonesia) – are excluded from voting from abroad by post. This is due to EC regulations put in place for the previous 13th general elections, and confirmed only in January as applicable to this year’s GE14. These Malaysians will have to travel home to their constituencies in order to vote. With polling day falling in the middle of the working week, instead of at the weekend, many Malaysians living and working in neighbouring countries will not be able to return to vote for financial or logistical reasons (2).
For Malaysians living and working further afield, and who were able to register as overseas postal voters, the EC, by fixing such an unreasonably short campaign period, appears to have effectively sabotaged the overseas postal voting process. PosLaju, which has been chosen by the EC to despatch overseas postal ballots (3), states that it can take up to 7 working days to send documents one way to most countries overseas. For instance, PosLaju EMS deliveries to New Zealand can take a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 5 working days one way, while deliveries to Italy can take a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 7 working days (4). The tight schedule announced by the EC — with only 8½ working days between nomination and polling — makes it impossible for postal ballots to be printed, despatched and returned by voters overseas in time to be counted on polling day, unless alternative delivery methods are employed.
Global Bersih and MOV call upon the EC to provide guarantees on an urgent basis that it will be possible for overseas postal ballots in GE14 to be printed, despatched and returned in time to be counted on polling day. If such guarantees are not forthcoming, Global Bersih and MOV will not hesitate to take all necessary legal steps to vindicate overseas Malaysians’ voting rights.
For further information, please contact Global Bersih and MyOverseasVote at:
35 Rue du Rothschild
1202 Geneva Switzerland
The Election Commission has just announced that applications for postal voting in GE14 for Malaysians living overseas are now open.
1. You must be registered as an ordinary voter.
2. You have been in Malaysia or returned to Malaysia for not less than 30 days during the five years before the dissolution of Parliament.
3. You must be living overseas (excluding southern Thailand (Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala, Songkhla and Satun), Singapore, Brunei and Kalimantan province, Indonesia.)
To register, you must download Form 1B and return it before midnight on the day Parliament is dissolved.
The EC has also announced that postal votes will now be sent out and returned by post instead of via Malaysian consulates overseas as was the case for GE13.
MyOverseasVote is now seeking assurances from the EC that will be enough time between nomination day and polling day for postal votes to be sent out and returned under this new procedure.
Many thanks to our supporters for their patience—we have been quiet recently because there has simply been very little to report since 2013!
Just to recap on the arrangements that have been in place since GE13:
1) If you have registered as a voter at any time in the past, you don’t need to do anything. Check your registration status here: http://pengundi.spr.gov.my/
2) If you have recently turned 21 and haven’t yet registered as a voter, you can do so at any post office in Malaysia. Alternatively, get in touch with the consular section at the Malaysian embassy or high commission overseas. It will take around 6 months to get onto the electoral register, but you only need to do it once in your life.
3) Arrangements for overseas postal voting for Malaysians living and working overseas will only be announced after Parliament is dissolved and the date of GE14 is announced.
Overseas Malaysians are reminded that it is normal for your voting information to show your Malaysian polling centre and saluran even if you have voted by post. This is because the hard copy electoral roll has already been finalised and given to the candidates on Nomination Day. Postal voters who are issued ballots (after Nomination Day) are crossed off the hard copy electoral rolls and cannot vote in person.
The Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Election Commission (EC), Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof and Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar, have said that EC officers were following procedures when they noted down the serial numbers of ballot papers issued to each postal voter on the EC’s list of postal voters (Malaysiakini, “EC vouches for confidentiality in postal voting“, 26 April 2013).
They further stated that it was normal for serial numbers to be noted on the Declaration of Identity (Form 2) that accompanies postal ballots.
While it is true that serial numbers of ballot papers are recorded on the Envelope A that encloses the postal ballot as well as on the Declaration of Identity (Form 2) that accompanies it, the serial numbers of the ballots should not be recorded anywhere else.
The serial number that is printed on each Form 2 is compared with the serial number on the Envelope A at the time the postal ballot is opened. If the serial numbers concur, the Form 2 with the voter’s name is then sealed up and signed across the seal by the candidates’ agents before the Envelopes A containing the ballot papers are opened. In this way, voter secrecy is preserved because when the Envelopes A are opened, there is no way to match the ballot papers to the names on the Form 2 without breaking the seal on the packet containing the Forms 2. It is therefore critical that no other record of the serial numbers of the ballot papers issued to individual postal voters exists which can be used to breach electoral secrecy.
This is in fact specifically provided for in sub-regulation 7(2) of the Elections (Postal Voting) Regulations 2003 (“2003 Regulations”) provides that:
“A list shall be made of the persons to whom postal ballot papers have been sent but without showing the particular ballot paper issued.”
Writing the serial number of the ballot paper issued directly contravenes sub-regulation 7(2) of the 2003 Regulations.
MyOverseasVote finds it appalling that the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the EC are so ignorant of their own regulations, and recommends that they should in future investigate and consult with their own legal team before blindly defending their officers’ mistakes and misfeasances.
To mitigate the risk of breach the 2003 Regulations, we call upon election agents to ensure that any such lists of postal voters have been sealed up and signed across the seal by the agents in accordance with regulation 11 of the 2003 Regulations. If this has not been done, they should contact their returning officers to ensure that it is done immediately. They should then again ask to inspect the sealed packets when postal ballots are opened on 5 May.