BERSIH 2.0 continues to be frustrated by the Election Commission’s (EC) reluctance to provide clear information to voters and various stakeholders on basic voting procedures, especially regarding overseas voting.
The Election Commission has given no indication publicly on how it intends to conduct overseas voting in the upcoming 14th General Election. This has caused a lot of confusion, not only for Malaysian voters overseas, but also for those working in Malaysian embassies and consulates.
After many attempts to clarify the processes with the EC, BERSIH 2.0 has sighted an email, in which the EC has confirmed Malaysians overseas will be able to vote as postal voters in GE14.
In the 2016 Sarawak State Election and recent by elections, voting facilities at embassies were not provided and voters had to courier their ballot papers back to Malaysia themselves. For the Sarawak State Election, BERSIH 2.0 reported that overseas voting was poorly implemented and voters were unable to cast their ballots as a result. In particular:
- There was an extremely short period for applications to be a postal voter.
- Ballot papers arrived at voters’ homes just two days before polling day, which was not enough time for them to be posted back to Malaysia.
- There was no opportunity for independent or party observation of the issuance and receipt of these ballots.
BERSIH 2.0 urges the EC to publicly clarify the process they will implement for overseas voting. The BERSIH 2.0 Office frequently receives queries from confused voters who are given conflicting information on how they can vote overseas. Any changes from the process in GE13 must further facilitate voting and enhance security and transparency of the process.
We further demand the EC implement BERSIH 2.0’s proposal for absentee voting, submitted to the EC on 16 May 2017. The proposed process would expand accessibility to absentee voting and ensure transparency and security in the process. It includes having designated overseas polling stations (such as embassies and consulates) for advanced voting one day before ordinary polling day and vote counting at these polling stations to prevent possible fraud in the storage and transportation of ballots.
Such reforms can be done through simple amendments to regulations and will be a step towards restoring public confidence in the EC.
The BERSIH 2.0 Steering Committee