BERSIH 2.0 is alarmed at what appears to be a strategic if not deliberate attempt by certain parties to disenfranchise voters through exploiting the voter objection provision in the Elections (Registration of Electors) Regulations 2002, which allows for objections to new registrations.
The objection provision in the Regulations is in place to weed out phantom voters but unfortunately the recent trend in objections may give rise to a perception that there is a conscious, racially-targeted effort to block new voters from registering.
Once objected, the new voters need to be present at the EC office for an enquiry and prove that they are a legitimate voter in the constituency. BERSIH 2.0 staff and volunteers spent two hours at EC’s office in Shah Alam on 6 March 2017 to monitor and witness for themselves over 20 newly registered voters turn up at the Election Commission (EC) Selangor Office to face their objectors. An EC official informed BERSIH 2.0 that they hear 100 cases per day.
Once a voter has shown proof that they are genuine voters, the EC officer in charge informed them that the compensation of RM100 will be paid by the objector and that it will be up to the voter to pursue the matter.
BERSIH 2.0 observed and received reports of a number of concerning incidents during the process:
- At least three of the objectors are committee members of the UMNO Petaling Jaya Selatan Division.
- A group of men and women who acted as objectors were being instructed by a single person on who they objected to.
- A newly registered voter asked her objector when the objector would pay the compensation. The objector said the voter will be paid in 3 months by an “agency” and went further to say she herself is not paying but some other “agency” will pay. When a BERSIH 2.0 volunteer took a photo of the exchange, a man grabbed her phone to stop her. He declared he was from “Jaringan Melayu”.
- One newly registered voter reported her objector did not know they had objected to her registration. The objector informed her that he had been given a directive by UMNO Selangor to appear at the EC Office that day.
- One newly registered voter was surprised to see that his neighbour, who he often speaks to, was his objector who had claimed that he did not live at the registered residence.
The EC has a clear duty to enfranchise voters and prevent abuse of a legitimate electoral process. BERSIH 2.0 thus raises the following concerns and expects clarifications from the EC:
- Are there hidden hands behind this flurry of voter objections, especially in Selangor?
- How many objections have the EC received in 2016 and what percentages of newly registered voters who face objections actually turn up for their respective hearings?
- What are the enforcement mechanism to ensure the RM100 fines are paid? If up to 100 objections were rejected per day, this could amount to up to RM10,000 in fines per day.
This is not the first time we have encountered this issue. In fact, it has been going on for two years as far as we know. BERSIH 2.0 first received a complaint in 2015 and the same issue was raised by Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming in September 2015.
Are these objections only peculiar to Selangor or a nationwide occurrence?
For new voters registered in this quarter (January-March 2017) who may be concerned about their status, BERSIH 2.0 urges them to check their voter status on the EC website (http://daftarj.spr.gov.my/daftarj/) come April 2017. It should show that their name is under processing. Should they receive an objection letter, it is imperative for them to attend the hearing or else their name might not be registered.
BERSIH 2.0 congratulates these newly registered voters and urges other voters facing objections to make a conscious effort and sacrifice their time to turn up at their hearings to claim their right to vote. We urge all authentic new voters who face such issues to contact BERSIH 2.0 so we can seek clarification from the EC.
Signed by the BERSIH 2.0 Steering Committee members