BERSIH 2.0 is today launching a campaign to push for absentee voting reform. In particular, BERSIH 2.0 is calling on the Election Commission and the Federal Government to amend existing regulations to allow Sabahan and Sarawakian voters living in West Malaysia and West Malaysians living in Sabah and Sarawak to be registered as absentee voters.
There is an urgent need to implement this reform, which was recommended by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reform in 2011.
BERSIH 2.0 estimates there are over 150,000 registered Sabahan and Sarawakian voters living in West Malaysia. Each election, these voters must spend hundreds of ringgit and find time to make the journey back to their home constituencies in order to vote.
These difficulties result in lower voter turnout and the effective disenfranchisement of a large number of voters. In fact, voter turnout in the 13th General Election for Sabah and Sarawak was lower than the rest of the country.
The introduction of absentee voting will not only boost voter turnout, but it is an opportunity for the Government and Election Commission to show they are serious about protecting the voting rights of all Malaysians in the lead up to GE14.
BERSIH 2.0 has developed a comprehensive proposal for absentee voting to be conducted in a secure and transparent manner and this proposal was submitted to the Election Commission in May 2017 and to Minister Datuk Paul Low in July 2017. To date, there has been no response to our submissions.
The reform proposal included changes to advance and postal voting to streamline the process and ensure the potential for fraud in the storage and transportation of ballots is eliminated.
BERSIH 2.0 encourages voters to sign our online petition for this reform at http://tiny.cc/undiluarkawasan. Malaysians can also contact ministers and Members of Parliament on social media for a response to this proposal with the hashtag #UndiLuarKawasan.
The BERSIH 2.0 Steering Committee