Commission cannot remove names of 'dead' voters

By June Ramli
09 December, 2007

KUALA LUMPUR: The Election Commission cannot remove from the electoral roll the names of voters who have died until it gets confirmation from the National Registration Department. Its chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman said this was one of the reasons the electoral roll has names of individuals who had died. He said in many cases, the deaths were not reported by the next-of-kin to the National Registration Department.

“In recent cases, we have removed the names of the dead with the co-operation of the police, who provided a list of people for whom burial permits had been issued,” he said.
After a talk on “Media and General Elections”, organised by the Malaysian Press Institute at Universiti Malaya yesterday, he said in the cases of those who had died long ago, there was a need for the commission to verify the fact before removing the names.
“We have had people telling us that so-and-so is dead without showing any proof. We cannot take action based on such information. We need some sort of proof like death certificates before we can remove the names.
“This is a serious business. Voting is a right and we can’t take off names without any proof. On our part, we have resorted to other means like sending people to the villages to check and see whether the person is dead or alive.”
He added that through this exercise, the commission had found that while some had died, there were still a large number who were still alive but living in places like Thailand. He said there were some 4.5 million voters in the National Registration Department records whose current address was not available.
Abdul Rashid admitted that the present system had room for improvement but it was up to the government to introduce these changes and implement them.
“We cannot even propose the changes because it is not our job to do so. Our job is just to see through the electoral process in accordance with the law.”
He said the present system could only be changed once the respective laws were amended.
“Without the amendments, nothing much can be changed. Although it is not a smart system, it guarantees the fundamental right of a person which is the right to vote as enshrined in Article 119 of the Federal Constitution.”