SPR’s Electoral Roll almost `expired’!

5th Apr 2009

From a Electoral Roll Verification(ERV) exercise conducted in 3 by-election areas Mafrel, an election watch dog accredited by Election Commission(SPR), found that the regularly disputed electoral roll prepared by the SPR has almost reached its `expiry’ date. The roll fails to provide full address for huge chunk of voters-about 1 in 20; fails to clean up dead voters-leaving about 100 suspected dead voters in each constituency, failed to provide more than half the voters’ house number; fail to sign up about 1/3 of the eligible voters. In so doing, the SPR’s electoral roll provide ample space for vote frauds, including `phantom voters’. In view of these long term chronic failures Mafrel call upon the SPR to seriously consider abandoning its inefficient and costly voters registration exercise, and opt for automatic registration based on the more professionally compiled and ready made National Registration Department database. In so doing, SPR can uphold the voting rights of all citizens while, under current depressing economic prospect, create significant saving for the country once and for all.

The results of Mafrel’s ERV are as follow:
Voters with house number but without full address (no street name and/or street number) in N25 Bkt Selambau : 65 % in Taman Bandar Baru(involving 60 houses with 15+ voters, 2729 voters); Taman Peruda (33 houses with 15+ voters, 678 voters) ; P059 Bkt Gantang : 70 addresses with 15+ voters, involving 1420 voters  & N29 Batang Ai : not applicable.
The field checks involve knocking on residents door in locations where there are a concentration of addresses without road name and/or road number, to find out if indeed there is no street name/number on the voters’ IC. As it turns out all of their IC have street name and street number. So: why is the SPR keeping this information away while NRD has the information, which it shares regularly with SPR?
Voters without house number in Bkt Selambau :20.4  %; Bkt Gantang : 26.1  % & Batang Ai : 96.3 %;
The field check involves checking the details on the IC’s of residents in areas where there are concentrations of such houses, which, in these 3 areaas, turn out to be estates and long houses. The SPR should push the local councils to provide house number to these voters or risk significant sections of voters being made untraceable individually for a long time to come.
For eligible voters who have signed up in Bkt Selambau :  67 %*; Bkt Gantang : 67 %*  & Batang Ai : 45 % (8006 voters/17826 eligible residents (80% of 22 270 residents)
* Estimate from national average.
Clearly quite a significant section of voters have been disenfranchised, probably due to the ineffective ways of registering voters, despite that SPR has been 1 of the government bodies with the highest growing budget allocations..
For possible number of dead voters(approximated to be over 90 years old/born on or before 1918) in Bkt Selambau : 78  ; Bkt Gantang : 180 & Batang Ai :  64 .
Field checks involve visiting very old voters at their addresses through spot checks. A number of dead voters below have been found:
1. Encik Kassim b. Md Amin, Bkt Gantang (8 Julai 1916-1973).
2. Encik Che Man b. Said, Bkt Gantang (9 Nov 1912-2001 )
3. Dayang Utat Binti Kamaruden, Batang Ai (1898-1981) IC: 001231-50-5984
4. Timah ak Ambal, Batang Ai(1900-?) IC: 001231-50-5984
5. David Aling ak Usit, Batang Ai(1942-2007)IC: 420819-13-5327
If a more thorough check has been done even more dead voters are likely to be uncovered in the SPR’s roll, showing SPR’s inefficiency in cleaning up the voters’ roll.
So on average, for the 3 areas surveyed, the voters with house number but without full address number in the thousands, or on average about 6% of total voters populations ie 1 in 20 voters; Voters without house number is about 47% ie about 1 in 2; Eligible voters not signed up is 37% ie about 4 in 10. Suspected dead voters population (voters above 90 years old) average over 100 each.
These figures are consistent with figures obtained from other areas where Mafrel had conducted elections/by-elections observation before eg Permatang Pauh(46 house with 15+ voters) and Kuala Terengganu (10% of Kuala Terengganu voters have no house number).
From our field check the following pattern emerged:
A lot of addresses with unusually high voters registration eg over 15 voters per house, has untraceable or incomplete addresses. Is there something to conceal? Are they potential addresses which could be used to house phantom/imported voters?
Thousands of voters whose IC has full address do not have their full details displayed in the SPR’s electoral roll. Is this a case of incompetence or a deliberate effort to keep them away from some candidates?
Despite its various pronouncements to clean up the electoral roll the SPR seems never get serious to get rid of the dead voters in its rolls, which could number over 100 in each constituency. Its excuse that NRD did not supply it with the updates of the death records is not reflected by a specific case of David Aling ak Usit, of Batang Ai, whose name had been removed from the NRD records for 2 years, but not in the SPR records!
The SPR is constitutionally charged with the duty to conduct legislative elections in the country and for that purpose, specifically tasked to prepare an electoral roll commensurate with the conduct of  credible elections.
With such a performance on the compilation of the electoral roll the use values of the electoral roll is significantly compromised Eg it is inadequate to assist candidates who want to locate voters within his/her contesting constituency. Besides it open the space for vote frauds eg allowing phantom voters–thus scandalising the entire election operation which depend on it. The low rate with which it attract eligible voters to register undermine voting rights of a significant section of eligible voters. .
Since the NRD has a ready made citizens registration database, which is based on compulsory registration the SPR should be wise to abandon its redundant voters registration exercise by adopting the superior database of the former. All citizens who attain a sufficient age should automatically be accepted as voters, and in doing so endorsing the Constitutionally guaranteed voting rights  for all adult citizens!
Mafrel’s objective is to help SPR improve its role as an election administrator. Mafrel hope that the above recommendation will be given serious consideration by the SPR and the government to improve the election operation in the country.
Released by : Ong Boon Keong, Mafrel’s Northern Region Director
Enq. 017-4710930(Mohd Fesal B Abu Bakar)