State polls: Bersih calls for reform of postal ballot process

PETALING JAYA: If you are unwilling to extend the length of the campaigning period, then reform the postal ballot process, the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections Bersih urges the Election Commission (EC).

“If the EC is unwilling to extend the campaign period, then we call on them to reform the postal voting system completely. They should allow postal voters to download their ballots and other documents in PDF format to eliminate the need for EC to post or courier the ballots to them.

“This would also eliminate clerical errors commonly found with the current process of manually writing out serial numbers and stuffing envelopes. It would also be a huge cost saving (move) for the EC,” it said in a statement on Wednesday (July 5).

It added the 14-day campaign period puts pressure on poster voters, in particular overseas voters, in delivering their ballots to the Returning Officers in time.

“Campaign periods should be a minimum of 21 days.

“Since GE14 we have received numerous reports from overseas voters that by the time they received their postal ballots, it was either very close to polling day or passed it,” it said.

However, Bersih commended the decision to hold polling days for all six state elections on the same date.

“We believe six different election dates for six state elections would have prolonged the politicking and added to the confusion and lethargy for voters,” it said.

Bersih also said that volunteer groups that work to collect postal ballots to have them delivered to their respective Returning Officers should be supported and that it urged the Foreign Ministry to “direct all Malaysia Halls to allow volunteers to use it as collection centres”.

Earlier on Wednesday, the EC announced that the polling day for the state assembly elections had been set for Aug 12.

It also announced that the nomination day for candidates would be on July 29, while early voting on Aug 8.

The announcements follow the dissolution of the state assemblies of Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Penang, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu to hold fresh polls for the state governments.

(First published by The Star on 5 July 2023: