SUNGAI PETANI, 5 Apr 2009: Election watchdog Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections (Mafrel) have found irregularities in the electoral roll for the three upcoming by-elections.
Additionally, Mafrel’s findings of doubtful voters in the Bukit Selambau by-elections tally closely with estimates given by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) last week.
Mafrel’s electoral roll verification (ERV) exercise found 65% of registered voters in Taman Bandar Baru in Bukit Selambau have their house numbers, but not road names, registered with the Election Commission (EC).
PKR had earlier estimated 62.5% of such cases in the same housing area.
“Our estimates are slightly higher than PKR’s because we have done more thorough streamlining of the addresses listed in the most recent electoral roll,” said Ong Boon Keong, Mafrel’s northern region director, at a press conference today.
The press conference in progress
Mafrel said that it had found more than 90 house numbers with more than 15 registered voters in Taman Bandar Baru and Taman Peruda here, involving more than 3,400 registered voters in total.
In some case, more than 70 voters were registered in a single housing address, according to Mafrel’s findings.
Mafrel also found other irregularities, such as the absence of house numbers for voters registered in the electoral roll.
Also, Mafrel said the number of voters actually registered out of the population eligible to vote was still very low.
Mafrel conducted its verification exercise in the three by-election constituencies of Bukit Selambau in Kedah, Bukit Gantang in Perak and Batang Ai in Sarawak.
It said that on average, one in 20 voters had their house numbers but not road names listed in the electoral roll; one in two did not have their house numbers listed; four out of 10 eligible voters remained unregistered; and there were 100 dead voters still registered in each constituency.
Mafrel said its findings were based on checks on the latest electoral roll, gazetted earlier in 2009.
The EC updates and gazettes the electoral roll every three months.
Ong Boon KeongMafrel then appointed field workers who visited the doubtful addresses, interviewed the residents, and checked their identity card details with those listed in the electoral roll.
“We deployed approximately 40 field volunteers in Bukit Selambau, 50 in Bukit Gantang, and 30 in Batang Ai,” said Ong.
He said the current voter registration system was inefficient and costly, and said Mafrel called on the EC to implement automatic registration based on the National Registration Department (NRD) database.
“This only makes sense, as it will ensure a more streamlined and cost-efficient system of voter registration,” Ong said.
“We will compile a more comprehensive report after the by-election period and submit it to the EC,” he added.
“This is not a new suggestion by Mafrel,” said Kedah EC director Zainal Abidin Zakaria when contacted by The Nut Graph.
“The changes they are suggesting would need to be brought to Parliament and would require the necessary legislative processes,” he added.
On the incomplete addresses of registered voters, Zainal Abidin did not deny imperfections in the electoral roll, but said the EC would always cross-check such details with the NRD.
On Mafrel’s claims that at 67%, voter registration in Malaysia was low, Zainal Abidin said the EC could not force eligible voters to register.
“We are also aware of this and conduct various campaigns and voter registration drives, but we cannot use coercion to make people register,” he said.
On whether the EC would accept Mafrel’s suggestions, Zainal Abidin said, “Of course we will try to accommodate the suggestions which are practical.”
Malvu (Malaysian Voters Union), which works with Mafrel, has published our detailed findings here: http://malvu.blogspot.com
If the EC had taken note of suggestions and recommendations from other NGOs rather than only from the BN/Umno, they wouldn’t have faced so many problems like “phantom-voters” and other irregularities.
Then the EC wouldn’t have been perceived to be biased and pro-government.