Press release (23rd March, 2019): Good Move By Nrd To Tighten Rules To Register IC Address But Can Do Better

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) welcomes the move by the National Registration Department (NRD) to require proof of domicile when changing addresses on our Identification Cards (IC). People wanting to change their IC addresses will have to shown their utility bills, quit rent receipts or rental agreements. It was reported that this will one into force from 2 May, 2019.

Such a requirement by NRD will help resolve one of the concerns highlighted by Bersih 2.0 in the past where we detected large number of transplanted voters in the run up to GE14. These are people who changed their IC address and thereafter their voting constituency to a marginal one that the political party they support wants to win.

Thousands of such transplanted voters were recorded throughout the country, with many of them sharing the same addresses. One constituency that our electoral reform partner, ENGAGE, investigated in details was P116 Wangsa Maju, where between 5,000 to 10,000 voters were transplanted into the constituency shortly before GE14, with most from neighbouring P115 Batu.

Such large number of change of addresses and registration of new voters in such a short period could only happen not only because of how NRD allowed people to change addresses without need to show proof of domicile but also raises suspicion of internal collusion between NRD and EC staff with party operatives.

With the new requirement for those who wants to change addresses to show proof of their new address, this would plug a loophole for fraudulent electoral manipulations of voters.

However, Bersih 2.0 wishes to propose that the NRD consider the creation of a geocoded National Address Database (as recommended in our Electoral Reform Roundtable Report) , where every addresses in the country has a unique identifier that pinpoint its location and classification of property.

This would not only remove any ambiguities in the electoral roll but also flag dubious registrations of too many voters in same addresses and voters in non-residential addresses. Such a national registry would also benefit a multitude of government administrative functions and improve transparency.

By tightening the rules for the registration of addresses of citizens by NRD, this would pave the way for the automatic registration of voters. However, a national discussion should be started on whether we want to continue allowing people to choose where they want to vote, usually their hometown, or to force them to vote according to their current place of domicile, as per their latest IC address.

Again, Bersih 2.0 welcomes this move by NRD to tighten the registration of addresses and would be happy to discuss ways to improve the integrity of the electoral roll with all relevant parties.

Statement issued by:

Steering Committee of Bersih 2.0