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Clean up or abolish postal voting in interest of clean, fair general election

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The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) condemns the the Election Commission’s call for applications for postal voting domestically.

In the name of clean and fair elections, Bersih 2.0 has on several occasions strongly criticised the problematic postal voting framework which has been hijacked to manipulate electoral outcomes.

Bersih 2.0 has demanded the removal of postal voting because of:

  • the openness to abuse and misuse owing to the lack of electoral monitoring and transparency
  • the lack of clarity and dubious eligibility of postal voters
  • the lack of security measures for the storage and transportation of the ballot boxes which renders it vulnerable to vote tampering
  • the lack of access of polling and counting agents (Paca)
  • the lack of notice to candidates
  • the lack of enforcement in ensuring that voters do not appear as both postal and advance voters.

The Electoral Commission has allowed 12 categories of civil servants to vote as postal voters with the condition that their employers can verify that they will be on duty on polling day. Nine out of the 12 categories were quietly gazetted in October and December last year.



Vetted by

Closing date

  1. Electoral Commission personnel

  2. Police and military personnel

  3. Media personnel

Form 1A

Any party who has the power to approve this application and knows that the applicant will be on duty during advance voting day and polling day.

Nomination day

  1. Prisons Department

  2. Fire and Rescue Department

  3. Maritime Enforcement Department

  4. Government health workers working in government health institutions

  5. Royal Malaysian Police Volunteer Reserve

  6. Malaysian Civil Defence

  7. Immigration Department

  8. National Disaster Management Agency

  9. National Registration Department

Form 1C

Any party who has the power to approve this application and knows that the applicant will be on duty during polling day.

Five days before nomination day

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Expanding te categories of postal voters in a postal voting process that is flawed is a gross violation of the principles of the right to vote, vote security, electoral integrity and the democratic process.

Taking this instance as an example, there are no clear guidelines requiring:

  • proof that the voter is on duty and will be unable to vote in person
  • verification of the identity of the ‘employer’
  • parties who specifically qualify as an ‘employer’

More worrisome is the fact that applications for domestic postal voting have been opened without determining the date of the elections – how can civil servants apply for postal voting without knowing for sure that they will be on duty on polling day?

While the Electoral Commission makes grand claims about ensuring that civil servants should have access to the right to vote, little is done to ensure the integrity of the election process. One way that the Electoral Commission can easily rectify this is by putting in place clear and precise regulations to address opaque and insufficient laws on postal voting and advance voting.

Without proper procedures and processes in place to ensure the voters’ right to choose freely, voter secrecy and the integrity of the election process, the Electoral Commission should not have to resort to postal voting, especially when there are other methods at their disposal.

This criticism is especially valid given that the 2018 budget allotted RM370m to the Electoral Commission to ensure a smooth electoral process. Instead of postal voting, the Electoral Commission now has the resources to open up temporary polling stations under the standard voting processes.

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These concerns are justified given that Barisan National (BN) would have lost 30 of its current parliamentary seats if not for the turnaround caused by advance and postal votes in the 2013 general election – and the very fact that the government departments mentioned earlier have large number of personnel may tilt the election in favour of the current ruling coalition.

The military – one of the postal voting categories – is estimated to have a 420,000-strong force, of which more than 300,000 are reserve personnel. These reserve personnel need not be on duty on polling day and should not be included as postal voters.

Bersih 2.0 has proposed that postal voting be abolished and replaced with advance voting on condition that it is held a day before polling day and that the votes are counted on site at the end of the day.

Bersih 2.0’s proposal is part of our demands for electoral reform which we submitted to the Electoral Commission in April last year, in an effort to prevent and minimise electoral fraud. The 2018 budget allows for postal voting to be abolished and replaced with advance voting. There is no excuse for the Electoral Commission to extend postal voting to such large and unjustifiable categories.

Bersih 2.0 urges the Electoral Commission to immediately halt the registration of postal voters and review the postal voting application process to ensure that these voters are genuine; and in the pursuit of a clean and fair general election.

Satukan tenaga, kalahkan penipuan.

Bersih 2.0 steering committee

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