THE prime minister’s call for youths to
register as voters before it is too late is much welcomed.
Responsible Malaysians must register as voters now that the 14th General Election is approaching. It takes only five minutes to register at post offices and Election Commission (EC) offices. Yet, some 3.7 million Malaysians still haven’t done so. Why?
There are a number of reasons for low voter registration:
MANY Malaysians feel that it’s a hassle to register. The general complaint is that there are few voter registration officers to attend to the registrants;
REGISTRATION officers are not friendly. Many registered voters find that their addresses have been changed arbitrarily. When they checked at the post offices or EC offices, they are given vague answers and the run- around. As such, people lose interest. A minister pointed out in Parliament that 1,454 voters registered in just three months, between January and March.
Most objections were thought to be frivolous and politically motivated. This kind of news travels fast on the Internet and puts off responsible citizens from registering to vote;
MANY youths feel disenchanted with the voter delineation exercise and malappropriations in the voting process. Thus, they protest against the electoral system by not registering; and,
MANY Malaysians wonder whether — with so much festering in money politics — the one-person, one-vote system will work. Some believe that their votes will not make a difference to the outcome. But, here is where they are wrong. They need to be made aware of the importance of every vote. The EC needs to do more to educate voters and those who want to register as voters.
So, how do we encourage people to register as voters?
Why can’t the government introduce automatic voter registration? This means that those aged above 21 years are automatically registered as voters. There will be no hassle in applying to become a voter.
Why can’t we have compulsory voting? After all, the prime minister has stated that voting “is the responsibility of every Malaysian, he has the right to determine his future”.
These proposals for electoral changes can enhance the standards of the general election and its efficacy. It will also improve voter turnout for the GE14, from 84.84 per cent or 11.2 million voters for the GE13.
The EC should get cracking to get the 3.7 million Malaysians to register as voters and streamline voter registration in all the states.
Let us all look forward to a fair and free general election that will be recognised at home and abroad. Marilah undi !
Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam
Asli Chairman Centre of Public Policy Studies