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Push for higher voter turnout

Push for higher voter turnout

PETALING JAYA: The big push for a higher voter turnout is picking up steam as political parties and NGOs join forces to do their bit as the first week of campaigning nears its close.

A low voter turnout has been anticipated for GE15 due to a mix of political apathy and barriers such as high travel costs for outstation voters and unreliability of the postal voting process.

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Election analyst Dr G. Manimaran said the voter turnout for the Nov 19 polls is expected to be between 70% and 75%.

Voter turnout could be further dented in the event of floods or sudden spikes in Covid-19 cases, he said.

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There are currently more than 21 million people in the electoral roll for GE15 but every election, about four million people would skip going to the polls, he said.

“Another 10% of voters in the electoral roll will also need to be counted out for various reasons.

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“This means that in the end, voter turnout is expected to be around 70% to 75% of the electoral roll,” he said when contacted yesterday.

Manimaran added that despite the automatic voter registration making everyone aged 18 and above eligible to vote, this does not mean that everyone would be casting their ballots. To increase voter turnout, Manimaran said hurdles faced by overseas voters must also be removed.

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Malaysians living overseas must wait for the Election Commission (EC) to print out ballots after nomination day, which was Nov 5, and for their ballots to arrive by mail to their address.

“Two weeks is not enough. There will be cases where the ballot papers will reach after the polling closing period,” said Manimaran.

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He suggested that the EC give an extension of the accepting period to enable ballot papers that came in late to still be counted.

This was a practice in the United States, he said.

“There’s a trend in the last election where there was a slim majority in many places so they should count every vote as every vote has a value,” he said.

Manimaran also said that for GE13 in 2013, registered citizens overseas were allowed to cast their votes at Malaysian missions worldwide.

“As we have a large number of voters overseas, this system should be brought back,” he suggested.

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People-led movements have also been ignited to help mobilise voters.

One such movement is UndiBanjir, which is a collective of non-partisan, rakyat-led initiatives that aims to help as many Malaysians as possible vote in GE15.

UndiBanjir works to tackle the two-pronged issues of both undi (vote) and banjir (floods), which have been predicted at year-end.

Its website helps to crowdfund monetary aid for Malaysians who need help getting home to vote as well as maintain a carpool and ridesharing database to ease transportation to the polls.

It also serves as a platform to verify, list and help coordinate flood relief efforts in high-risk states as well as provide educational resources, especially for first-time voters.

Meanwhile another movement, called the Global Malaysian Network, has prepared an online registration form to ease the volunteer registration process to help postal voters overseas.

“During GE14, many of us stepped up, banded together and collectively sent our ballots home.

“We had our ups and downs but it is time to put aside our differences and work together again. The call for volunteers has been sounded,” its co-administrator Joshua Ng said in the form.

The network is a Facebook group that aims to “connect global Malaysians and advance our camaraderie and goodwill”.

Politicians are also coming out to appeal to Malaysians to come out and vote on polling day, with TikTok being a popular medium this time around.

Among those who posted clips on the app on the importance of voting are MCA Youth chief Datuk Nicole Wong, who is contesting for the Tebrau parliamentary seat, PKR’s Permatang Pauh candidate Nurul Izzah Anwar and Muda president Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman who is defending his Muar seat.



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