By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 31 — Election watch groups have welcomed the Election Commission’s plans to introduce online voter registration which, they believe, will improve the efficiency of the electoral registration process.
Malaysian for Free and Fair Election (MAFREL) chairman Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh said: “Obviously we welcome any new innovation to ensure more people will be able to vote and register themselves.”
Currently there are four million Malaysians eligible to vote but have not yet registered with the EC. The EC hopes to implement the system once a thorough study is completed.
However, the NGOs are wary of the safety and security of the system. They are worried about the system’s transparency and how it can be safe from fraudulent activities. Therefore the integrity of the system must be ensured by the EC before the system can be implemented.
Syed Ibrahim said: “We don’t want people registering themselves but turning up at different places. So these types of guarantees must be given.
“Probably there needs to be some safeguards to ensure that there is no multiple voting and no issue about phantom voters.”
Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) steering committee member and Bukit Bendera MP Liew Chin Tong believes that online registration is the right step towards automatic voter registration.
Automatic voter registration will allow voters to vote after registering 24 hours before polling day. This compares to the current practice whereby after registering, one has to wait between three and six months before becoming a qualified voter.
Liew said: “I think this is the right direction. I think it should be done immediately or as soon as possible in view of the huge numbers of Malaysians that have not registered yet.”
He urged the EC to lift the ban on allowing political parties and NGOs to register voters. He said: “Before the last election, political parties and NGOs were encouraged to assist the Election Commission to register voters.
“We can appoint assistant registrar for voters and that is a more effective way for EC to register voters. This is because the post offices are not very helpful in registering new voters.”