UPDATE: Overseas Malaysians will vote on 28 April 2013

PUTRAJAYA: All Malaysian citizens living abroad who have registered as postal voters will cast their votes at Malaysian missions overseas on April 28.

This also includes absentee voters.

Election Commission (EC) secretary Datuk Kamaruddin Mohamed Baria said the EC had set April 28, from 9am to 8pm, for the submission and acceptance of Priority Envelopes containing the postal ballots in London, United Kingdom, and Melbourne, Australia.

He said the same date applied to other Malaysian missions but the period would be shorter, from 9am to 6pm.

“The Malaysian missions in London and Melbourne have an extension of two hours because they have postal voters exceeding 1,000 people,” he said in a statement, here, on Monday.

He said all the registered voters must be present at the Malaysian missions and furnish their identity cards or international passports to the EC personnel on duty.

He stressed that the Priority Envelope would not be given to those who did not produce their identification documents and representatives or relatives would not be allowed to collect the envelope on behalf of other individuals.

After marking, the ballot-papers must be put inside the EC’s Special Sacks provided at the Malaysian missions abroad.

“The envelopes containing the postal ballot papers in the EC’s Special Sacks will be taken back to Malaysia on the same day to be handed to the returning officers of the respective election divisions,” he said.

However, Kamaruddin said, those who took the Priority Envelopes after the submission day or returned them after the stipulated date and time would have to personally handle the sending of the envelopes to the returning officers of the respective election divisions at their own expense.

To date, all 1B forms had been sent to the offices of the returning officers of the respective election divisions (Parliament) for their approval, he added.

“Malaysian residents abroad are expected to be able to check on the outcome of their requests to vote via post and information related to the date, time and address of the Malaysian missions abroad at the EC website at http://www.spr.gov.my starting April 19, 2013,” he said. – Bernama

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UPDATE: Latest information on overseas postal voting

The EC has provided a guide on how postal voting will be carried out, and on how postal votes will be counted.

At present, we understand that applications for postal votes have been filtered by the EC and any persons not qualified to vote by post have already been informed. The applications have been sent to the returning officers of each constituency for formal approval before the EC notifies the voters shortly before Nomination Day (20 April). Lists of postal voters will be provided to the candidates on Nomination Day.

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FLASH: Nominations 20 April, Polling 5 May

The EC has announced that Nomination Day will be on 20 April 2013, whereas Polling Day will be on 5 May 2013.

We understand that postal voters will be notified on Nomination Day that their applications have been approved. If you have not yet been informed that your application is rejected, it is likely that your application will be approved on 20 April 2013.

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The EC Should Not Be Surprised by Low Overseas Voter Numbers When It Has Deliberately Restricted the Number of Eligible Voters

The Election Commission (EC) should not be surprised that only 6,298 overseas Malaysians have registered to be postal voters when it has deliberately acted to restrict the number of eligible postal voters.

It has done this by:

1) not announcing the arrangements for overseas postal voting until after the Q4 2012 voter registration had ended. This ensured that those who had not yet registered could not get onto the electoral roll until May-June 2013, after GE13, and could therefore not register as postal voters for this election.

2) preventing Malaysians in Singapore, Brunei, Kalimantan and southern Thailand from registering. This excluded over 400,000 Malaysians living in Singapore, or approximately 40% of overseas Malaysians.

3) requiring overseas Malaysians to have returned to Malaysia for 30 days over the preceding 5 years.

4) closing the overseas postal voter registration before the date of the general election has been announced. This means that overseas Malaysians cannot plan whether to return to Malaysia or to vote by post.

Up to today, Malaysians who registered as overseas postal voters in January have still not received any reply telling them whether their applications have been approved or not. This is causing great confusion and uncertainty among overseas Malaysians, who need to plan their return trips to Malaysia if their applications are rejected.

MyOverseasVote calls upon the EC immediately to ensure that overseas Malaysians who have submitted their applications are told whether their applications have been successful or not, instead of complaining that the numbers are small.

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MyOverseasVote and Global Bersih Call on Overseas Malaysians to Vote in the 13th General Election, and Press the EC to Allow Postal Voting Observers

Background

MyOverseasVote has been campaigning since October 2010 for Malaysians residing outside Malaysia to be given the right to vote by post. In January 2013, the Election Commission (EC) announced that Malaysians residing overseas except in Singapore, southern Thailand (Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala, Songkhla and Satun), Kalimantan and Brunei would be allowed to apply to vote by post provided that they had been in Malaysia for at least 30 days in total during the previous five years.

MyOverseasVote and Global Bersih do not accept that the additional restrictions imposed by the EC are constitutional, fair or necessary. We are displeased that it has taken nearly one and a half years since the EC Chairman announced in August 2011 that overseas postal voting would be allowed for these regulations to be announced to the public. Nevertheless we welcome the fact that many overseas Malaysians will be able to vote by post in the upcoming 13th General Election (GE13), and we will work with the EC and Wisma Putra to improve the overseas postal voting system in the run-up to GE13.

Absent voters

Prior to January 2013, only full-time students, government servants and members of the armed forces and their respective spouses living overseas were allowed to register as absent voters and thus be entitled to vote by post. Absent voters are in effect permanent postal voters, and will not be able to vote in person in Malaysia until such time as they re-register as ordinary voters. If you are a registered absent voter, you will be able to vote by post even if you reside in Singapore, southern Thailand, etc.

Due to the closeness of the next general election, if you are not yet a registered absent voter, you should not register as an absent voter but should instead apply for a postal vote using Form 1B.

How to apply for a postal vote

Under the new EC scheme, overseas Malaysians who meet the qualifying criteria can apply to be postal voters for one general election. Please note that if you apply for a postal vote, you will not be able to vote in person in Malaysia.

MyOverseasVote and Global Bersih encourage Malaysians to return to vote in Malaysia if you can afford to do so, but if you cannot afford to return to vote, then we encourage you to apply for a postal vote.

In order to apply for a postal vote, you must first be a registered Malaysian voter. Any Malaysian citizen of or over the age of 21 can register at any computerised post office or Malaysian mission overseas (including embassies, consulates-general, high commissions, the Malaysian Friendship and Trade Centre in Taipei and the Malaysian Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva). You only need to register once in your lifetime; however, it takes between 3-6 months after you register for a new electoral roll to be gazetted. To check whether you are already registered as a voter, please enter your IC no. at http://daftarj.spr.gov.my/. Students and government servants who have registered as absent voters will be listed with “pemilih tak hadir” as their locality, and do not need to apply using Form 1B.

For those not listed as absent voters, you need to download Form 1B from the EC website at http://www.spr.gov.my/. You must fill in the form and return it to the EC by fax, post or email. Instructions for filling out the form, together with sample completed forms and Frequently Asked Questions, are available on the EC website.

Your application for a postal vote must be received by the EC before Parliament or any State Legislative Assembly is dissolved.

Collecting your postal ballot

Overseas postal ballots are issued by the returning officer of each constituency in front of the political candidates’ agents, and are then sent by diplomatic pouch to the Malaysian mission overseas designated by the postal voter on his Form 1B. They must be collected and returned on the day notified by the mission in order for them to be returned to Malaysia by diplomatic pouch.

To collect your postal ballot, you must come in person and bring your NRIC or passport with you.

Please check with your local embassy, high commission or consulate closer to the day to find out what arrangements are in place for the collection of overseas postal ballots. If you collect your postal ballot on a different day from that which is promulgated, you will yourself be responsible for returning the postal ballot to the returning officer in Malaysia by 5 p.m. on polling day.

Exercising your postal ballot

If you apply to vote by post, you must collect your ballot paper in order to prevent it being used by another person.

Voters from the States (except Sarawak, whose State elections are usually held separately) should receive two postal ballots for Federal and State elections, while voters from the Federal Territories and Sarawak should receive a Federal postal ballot only.

To vote, you must check that the serial number on the ballot paper is the same as the number written on the Form 2 and the Envelope A, and then fill out and sign the declaration of identity (Form 2) in front of an embassy official or other Malaysian citizen.

You should then mark your ballot paper in secret, and then seal it in the Envelope A. The Form 2 and Envelope A should then be sealed in the Envelope B and returned to the embassy staff.

Minimising fraud

MyOverseasVote and Global Bersih believe that the risk that your postal ballot will be tampered with after it has been used is minimal given the safeguards already in place under the 2003 Postal Voting Regulations, and that any attempted mass tampering should be detectable by the parties’ counting agents.

We believe that the greater risk is that postal ballots will be issued improperly to phantom voters on the electoral roll or in the names of those known to be overseas who have not actually applied to vote by post, in order to dilute the votes of genuine overseas postal voters.

For this reason, we believe that the risk of fraud is greater if overseas voters do not vote (thereby allowing others to apply to vote in their name), and strongly recommend that overseas Malaysians apply for a postal vote, and collect and exercise their postal votes on the designated day, if they cannot afford to return to Malaysia to vote.

MyOverseasVote and Global Bersih call for all candidates to be given a list of postal voters in their constituencies at the end of nomination day, and for political parties to be given a nationwide list of overseas postal voters broken down by embassy, high commission or consulate.

We also call upon the EC and Wisma Putra to permit party agents from each political party to observe the collection and voting process within each Malaysian mission overseas. If the EC and Wisma Putra refuse to allow this, then we overseas Malaysians will set up observation booths outside the missions in order to monitor the overseas postal vote collection ourselves.

MyOverseasVote and Global Bersih are therefore calling for volunteers in all cities where Malaysian missions are located to be ready to observe the collection of postal ballots every day during the postal voting period. Observers will record the numbers of postal voters who turn up to collect postal ballots at every Malaysian mission, and will ask for and record postal voters’ IC numbers in order to determine the number of overseas postal votes cast in each constituency.

We call on the EC urgently to begin formal discussions with political parties and with civil society to develop and agree to implement procedures that will underpin a transparent postal voting process that meets universal standards of accountability. Any refusal by the EC to engage with stakeholders on this issue can only be viewed as unwillingness on the part of the Commission to oversee the coming election process in  an impartial and non-partisan manner.

Conclusion

MyOverseasVote, Bersih and Global Bersih will issue further statements on minimising fraud during the issuing and counting of postal ballots.

For now, we encourage all eligible Malaysians to return Malaysia to vote if they can afford to and if not, to apply to vote by post as soon as possible.

It is important that Malaysians overseas turn out in large numbers to vote, either in person or by post, in order to reduce the impact of any phantom voting.

For more information follow us on http://www.facebook.com/MyOverseasVote or contact us on myoverseasvote@gmail.com.

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FLASH: Postal Voting Form Now Available on EC Website

The EC has today uploaded the postal voting registration form and FAQ onto its website. Those who are eligible are Malaysian citizens of or above the age of 21 years who:

  • Are registered voters;
  • Reside overseas (except in Singapore, Brunei, Southern Thailand and Kalimantan); and
  • Have returned to Malaysia for a total of 30 days since 28 April 2008.

You have between now and the dissolution of Parliament to register to vote by post by returning Form 1B to the EC by email, fax or post. Please note the following:

  • If you register to vote by post, you cannot vote in person in Malaysia;
  • Your postal ballot will be sent to the nearest Malaysian embassy/high commission/consulate, which you have to specify on the form;
  • There will be a day fixed for you to collect and return your ballot so that the embassy/high commission/consulate can send the ballots back to Malaysia by diplomatic pouch.
  • If you choose to collect your ballot on another day, you will be responsible for sending it back to the returning officer in your constituency, but it must arrive before 5pm on polling day in order to be counted.
  • If you register to vote by post, please ensure that you collect your ballot in order to prevent someone else from using it to vote fraudulently.

Please make sure you read the FAQ on the EC website.

We will be issuing further information in due course about how to prevent postal voting fraud.

http://www.spr.gov.my/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=34:pengundian-pos-di-luar-negara&Itemid=189

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MyOverseasVote Urges EC to Release Amended Postal Voting Regulations Immediately to Resolve Confusion at Malaysian Missions Overseas

With just over a month until Parliament is widely expected to be dissolved for the 13th General Election, overseas Malaysians are still in the dark about whether and how they will be able to vote by post as promised by the EC in the coming General Election. Just how the postal voting system will work is a mystery even to some Malaysian missions overseas (e.g. Singapore, Melbourne, Paris), and it was recently reported that the mission in Qatar had presented local Malaysians with a 30-minute window to register themselves. Another mission that has made up its own rules is Shanghai, where Malaysians there have not been able to apply to be ‘ordinary voters’ since the mission stopped taking registrations in July 2012, while others have found they have been registered as Postal Voters without their consent. Only one mission (London) has been able to tell us what they know about the proposed registration and voting process for postal voters. We have been told that overseas Malaysians will be required to have returned to Malaysia for at least 30 days within the past 5 years, and will be able to register using a new Form 1B that will be made available online and which can be processed within 7-10 working days. But the registration process cannot begin because the EC has yet to gazette the amended regulations for overseas postal voters. 

The EC must  answer for this shambles and get its house in order. The EC must release the amended Postal Voting Regulations immediately so that they can be scrutinised by stakeholders and so that Malaysian missions overseas and postal voting agents in each constituency can be properly briefed and trained. Given widespread distrust of the EC’s impartiality and ability to safeguard against fraud, overseas Malaysians need to know exactly what safeguards are being put in place before they register to vote by post in the upcoming General Elections. Having campaigned for over two years in order to gain the right to vote by post, MyOverseasVote undertakes to scrutinise the regulations as soon as they are gazetted and issue guidelines on minimising the risk of fraud. 

A further issue of concern that is yet unresolved is whether the campaign period will be long enough to allow postal ballots to be received and returned to Malaysia. We believe that the current minimum of 10 days is insufficient for the postal voting system to work using normal postal services, though we understand that overseas voters will have the option of having their postal ballots sent and returned via diplomatic pouch through participating Malaysian missions (embassies, high commissions or consulates). It is still unclear which Malaysian missions will be voting centres and which will not, and whether these missions will put in place special measures for Malaysians to cast their votes after normal office hours, as many Malaysians will need to travel long distances in order to reach the nearest participating mission.

We continue to encourage overseas Malaysians, especially the 400,000 Malaysians working in Singapore, to return home to vote if they can afford the time and expense, though we are aware that for most Malaysians further afield this will not be possible. We also encourage returnees to join the Jom Pantau GE13 initiative by Bersih to monitor the conduct of the elections in Malaysia.

Until the new Regulations come into effect, the MOV6 appeal against the EC, currently scheduled for 28 February 2013, will continue as usual. 

 

MyOverseasVote

London, 11 January 2013

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