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EC refutes allegations over electoral roll

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NOTHING TO HIDE: The Election Commission has come under attack of late from certain quarters alleging a tainted electoral roll and other irregularities. These are the responses from the Election Commission to some of the allegations, write Ili Liyana Mokhtar, Akil Yunus and Lavanya Lingan

ALLEGATION 1: The polling area for (Selangor menteri besar) Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim (as a voter) has been moved by the EC.

Answer: The allegation is totally false and baseless. The EC gave a detailed explanation to members of parliament on April 16 regarding this matter. However, the issue has continued to be twisted to confuse the public who do not understand the issue of correcting the locality position in a polling district situated in state and parliamentary constituencies.

What actually happened in the case involving the address of the locality of Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim was that the EC only made a correction to the locality position that was wrongly placed in the voting constituency. The process was carried out under provision of sub-regulation 25 (3) of Election Regulations (Registration of Voters 2002).

Khalid had registered as a voter on Jan 1, 1985 using the address Jalan 16/2, Seksyen 16, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. When his registration form was inputted into the system, the EC officer entered his locality address as Jalan 16/2 in the N.34 Bukit Gasing state and P.105 Petaling Jaya Selatan parliamentary constituencies, based on the address in that registration form.

At the time of registration, the EC did not realise that Jalan 16/2 came under the Federal Territory with Jalan Datuk Abu Bakar being the official border of Selangor and the FT.

However, the Jalan 16/2 locality in which Khalid was registered was actually situated in the P.121 Lembah Pantai parliamentary constituency in the FT. When the EGIS system was implemented, we began to realise the mistake in determining the position of the particular locality. Therefore, during a nationwide adjustment for such cases, EC made a correction to the locality Jalan 16/2 Seksyen 16, Petaling Jaya. It did not involve any changes to the demarcation of the parliamentary and state constituencies. Those seeking further clarification on the issue can visit the EC's headquarters or its Selangor or FT offices.

Allegation 2: The EC has failed to clean up the electoral roll, with 42,051 "doubtful" voters still remaining in the roll.

Answer: As an ongoing exercise to clean up the electoral roll, the EC sent the master electoral roll comprising all 12.5 million registered voters to the National Registration Department (NRD) in July last year for verification and cleaning up. In September 2011, the NRD responded to the EC, stating that from the total 12.5 million, 42,051 voter names had no valid and verifiable information. Their names were listed in NRD records, but the problem was they could not be contacted to provide an update on their locations as they did not have proper addresses. At the same time, they did not go to any of the NRD offices to update their status. Therefore, the EC made a decision to categorise these 42,051 names under "doubtful voters".

In order to ensure the rights of registered voters were safeguarded as provided for under the Constitution, the EC could not simply remove their names from the electoral roll without verification from the relevant authority, which is the NRD. Instead, the EC took the initiative to display the 42,051 names for three months to give them a chance to come forward and update their records with the NRD and EC. This would enable the EC to update or remove names.

During the exercise, the EC also sent out the list of names to the headquarters of all the main political parties as well as political leaders at parliamentary and state assembly levels to help verify the status of those voters. However, in those three months, the response received from political parties or the public was not encouraging. On March 28 this year, the NRD came back to us with the feedback that the number of doubtful voters had been reduced to 40,803 (from 42,051) after detailed checks. This was after some of the voters came forward to update the information in their IC, whereas others were represented by their next of kin who produced evidence of their deaths.

EC regulations do not allow any names in the electoral roll to be deleted without verification by NRD. Therefore, the 40,803 oubtful voters would have to remain on the list to protect their constitutional rights. EC will only remove names after an official verification from NRD that those people had either passed away, lost their citizenship or were no longer eligible to vote for other reasons as provided for in the Federal Constitution.

Allegation 3: There are still many voters aged more than 100 years old in the electoral roll.

Answer: Names can be removed only under two circumstances: first, when the voter is declared dead according to the NRD records and, secondly, if there is confirmation that the voter is not eligible to vote with evidence from the authorities. Hence, although there could well be voters who are 100 years old or more, the law does not allow the EC to remove their names from the electoral roll on the assumption that they may have died. If there are quarters who know and can prove that there are family members who had died, the EC hopes that they can come forward and report the matter to the NRD so that the records could be updated. On the question of confirming the death record of a citizen, the EC had to rely on valid information from the NRD to prevent fraud.

Allegation 4: The EC's electoral roll is tainted as it contains numerous voters who are registered under the same address.

Answer: The public's perception of the Mimos research that there are many registered voters registered at the same address is not true. What happened was that Mimos had wrongly interpreted it by making the assumption that voters registered at the same locality were registered at the same address. In fact what the EC had done was to enable the voters to determine their polling districts and polling centres.

As such the EC had introduced a policy where a few addresses are incorporated into the same locality. In the election boundaries, localities are the smallest units that contain several addresses. Several localities in turn make up a polling district and then, several polling districts form a state constituency. A parliamentary constituency comprises a few state constituencies.

For an example, the Kampung Melayu Majidee locality in Johor is regarded as an address with more than a hundred voters. In that locality, there are in fact hundreds of complete addresses and incomplete addresses. Those addresses were later combined as one locality which is Kampung Melayu Majidee locality.

This thing has been wrongly interpreted by Mimos as being only one address, when actually it is a locality in a polling district.

Allegation 5: Spike in the number of new voters in constituencies represented by the opposition.

Answer: The EC has been aggressive in urging the people to register as voters. This and the impending 13th general election have been the main factors contributing to a sharp increase in voters’ registration up to the fourth quarter of last year.

This pattern of sharp increase in voters’ registration has been recorded in all constituencies nationwide. There have constituencies that recorded a bigger increase in voters registration than other constituencies. This should not be questioned because as of June 2011, there were still 3.7 million Malaysians who were eligible but had yet to register as voters.

The highest number of those who had yet to register was Selangor, followed by the Federal Territory, Johor, Perak and others.

Thus, if a high increase in voter registration happened in Selangor, that was in consistent with the fact that some 750,000 citizens who had yet to register as of June 2011 were from Selangor.

In certain constituencies, the increase in voters’ registration went up by more than 30 per cent compared with the number of registered voters in the 12th general election (2008). These include P.107 Subang (34 per cent), P.158 Tebrau (34 per cent), P.111 Kota Raja (33 per cent, P.086 Pekan (33 per cent) and P.032 Gua Musang (30 per cent).

The increase in the number of voters was not something planned by EC for certain reasons, as alleged by certain  quarters. On the contrary, it happened because there were still many eligible voters who have not registered.

As a result of the aggressive and continuous registration drive, they started to realise and registered themselves as voters at post offices and through assistant registrars appointed by the EC around the country.

(The New Straits Times will publish the complete set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) from Tuesday.)

Election Commission deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar (right) explaining the booklet launched by the EC, entitled “The Facts Behind the Allegations and Lies Against the EC”. The booklet aims to debunk 12 allegations against the EC’s management of the electoral roll. At left is Pahang EC director Othman Noh. Bernama pic


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