Bersih and Global Bersih call on Election Commission to immediately make urgent changes to overseas postal voting system

Bersih and Global Bersih are calling for the Election Commission to make urgent changes to the overseas voting system to ensure that the growing number of overseas Malaysian voters are able to exercise their right to vote in the 15th General Elections (GE-15).

The implementation of Undi18 and Automatic Voters Registration (AVR) will result in a growth from 14.9 million eligible voters in GE-14 to 21.1 million eligible voters in the current electoral roll.

The Election Commission will need sufficient time to prepare for the elections and to ensure that the overseas postal voting system is effectively implemented. Given the speculation that GE-15 might be held in November 2022, there is a dire need for the following changes to be implemented as soon as possible:

  • The Election Commission should open the process of overseas postal voters registration immediately to provide an ongoing registration process for overseas voters. This is essential to avoid processing backlogs and delays. Currently, Malaysians abroad have to register as overseas voters during a narrow timeframe before each election, putting pressure on both the Electoral Commission staff to process the applications and on voters to apply within a limited time.
  • Non-Malaysians should be allowed to act as witnesses on postal ballot documents. The current requirement that postal ballot documents must be signed and witnessed by a Malaysian citizen has proven to be a stumbling block for many overseas Malaysians who live in areas with few or no other Malaysians. Allowing non-Malaysians to be witnesses will enable more overseas Malaysians to participate in the voting process.
  • The campaign period should be extended to a minimum of 21-25 days, allowing enough time for postal ballots to be sent to overseas voters and returned to polling stations. Campaign periods for previous elections have been far too short to allow overseas voters to receive and return ballots, and have necessitated the use of expensive courier services.

These changes can be made before GE-15, as they are straightforward procedural changes within the discretion of the Election Commission. These changes do not require significant amendments to any existing laws or policies. To ensure that the overseas postal voting process works effectively during GE-15, these changes should be implemented as soon as possible by the Election Commission and relevant Ministries.

Should the elections be called later, and there is sufficient time to implement and test new processes, the EC should consider other methods to ensure that overseas Malaysians have time to return their votes, for instance, by allowing access to ballot papers online. It is crucial however that any new systems are tried and tested before implementation to ensure workability.

We also stresses the importance of relevant government departments proactively communicating information on the overseas voting process to Malaysians abroad, and calls upon Wisma Putra to mobilize its network of overseas missions and embassies to support this process. For example, voters should be immediately informed that they should open a user account on the Election Commission website to be able to register as overseas voters.

These changes are immediately needed to avoid repeating the mistakes made during GE-14, such as the lack of clear and transparent information for overseas voters, and the late arrival of postal ballots that prevented overseas voters from casting their vote.

Bersih is a pro-democracy organization committed to advocate for institutional reforms, with a special focus on electoral reform, to strengthen procedural parliamentary democracy through public campaigns, bipartisan engagement with political parties and defending fundamental liberties.

Global Bersih is an international movement of overseas Malaysians, created to support Malaysian civil society’s work and strengthen Malaysia’s maturing democracy, using peaceful and legal means of action.

For further information, please contact

Asraf Sharafi
Senior Program Officer
+6014-572 4007
[email protected]


Nirmala Devi Windgaetter
Secretary General
[email protected]
+49 1722389665
Global Bersih
15 Cour des Bastion CH-1205
Geneva, Switzerland

  3. Elections(Conduct of Elections) Regulations 1981, s3