One of BERSIH 2.0’s ‘8 Demands’ is to have automatic voter registration. Automatic voter registration means as soon as any Malaysian citizen reaches the age of 21, their name is automatically added to the electoral roll, using the details on the National Register. The Election Commission already has a close working relationship with the National Registrtion Department in removing dead voters from the electoral roll. This relationship should be extended to add new voters to the roll.
However, instead of being pro-active in finding new ways to increase the number of Malaysians that can vote, the Election Commission is being regressive. Since the 13th General Election, the Election Commission has restricted the number of Assistant Registrar Officers in the country. These AROs are authorised to register voters over 21 years of age. In the lead up to the 13th General Election, political parties and NGOs had very successful campaigns to register voters, with hundreds of thousands of people registering in time to vote. Since then, the ARO status for political parties have been revoked and many NGOs have not had their status renewed.
However, certain government agencies, such as the Special Affairs Department (JASA) and NGOs with close ties to the ruling Barisan Nasional are still able to register voters. JASA is known as the Government’s propaganda unit and many of the registration officers under JASA are local division leaders of UMNO or Perkasa.
The result of this tactic by the Election Commission has been a nett decrease in the number of voters on the electoral roll. There are over four million unregistered voters in the country and this number is going up. BERSIH 2.0 is running a campaign to encourage people to register to vote. An election can be called at any time and if your name is not on the electoral roll you can not vote. People can register to vote by visiting the following places:
- Your nearest Election Commission office
- Any computerised post office
- District Offices
- Any mobile SPR units or public places with an Assistant Registrar Officer present