‘Advance voting’ needs to be defined, EC told

by Karen Arukesamy (The Sun)
PETALING JAYA (Jan 25, 2010): The Election Commission (EC) has to define “advance voting” and how it is to be implemented in detail to ensure it is workable taking into serious consideration “integrity and transparency”, said an election watchdog.
Malaysia for Fair and Free Election (Mafrel) chairman Syed Ibrahim Alhabshi told theSun today the advance or early voting system, currently being studied by the EC, has to be properly defined before it could be implemented.
“At the moment, we do not know how different it is from postal voting and how it is going to be implemented,” he said.
It was reported today the EC had announced its plan to implement an advance voting system, which allows voters to cast their votes earlier, and provide a two-day cooling-off period before the polling date.
However, it has yet to provide an explanation on the implementations and methods.
EC deputy chairman Datuk Wira Wan Ahmad Wan Omar told theSun the commission is still studying the system based on what was learnt from overseas.
“It is too early to give any details now. There are many aspects to look into other than just the implementation, like legislation, check and balance and so on,” he said.
Syed Ibrahim said there is no point in introducing the system if it is going to be similar to postal voting.
“Mafrel is very firm on its stand that postal voting should be abolished because of many issues and criticisms with regards to integrity and transparency,” he said.
“Anything that is about pre-voting would require a lot of scrutiny on the registration of voters, especially now that there will be an expansion on those who can vote early, instead of just the armed forces and students and civil servants who are abroad.”
The EC also said it is looking into the inclusion of various categories of voters like reporters, doctors, nurses, pilots and stewards.
Currently, those eligible for postal voting are policemen and their spouses, military personnel and their spouses, as well as students and civil servants who are abroad.
Syed Ibrahim said getting a proper method or system for voters’ registration is important to prevent people with fake or false identities from voting.
“The EC should come up with something strong on the basis of integrity and transparency,” he said.
He said that with a good transportation system and technology nowadays, postal voting is unnecessary even for the police or armed forces.
“They can just come out and cast their votes at the nearby polling stations and they should be allowed to do so,” he said.
Malaysian Voters Union coordinator Ong Boon Keong said while it welcomes the EC’s new initiative, it hopes that the new system will not be “abused” just like the criticisms on postal voting.
“If this is an initiative for a better the voting system, then the EC should take this opportunity to correct the current system and ensure that new one has proper check and balance,” he said.
Criticising postal voting, Ong said the armed forces must be allowed to have accessibility to the non-ruling parties, which is why
He also said that early voting should not be restricted to certain groups but everyone should be allowed to choose if they wish to cast their votes early.