KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 22 — Global Bersih has urged the Election Commission to immediately address bureaucratic tangles in the overseas postal voting system that could hinder Malaysians from casting their ballots in the 15th general election that could be held as early as November.
Some of the longstanding problems include the short window for voter registration and the requirement to have the postal ballot signed and witnessed by another Malaysian national, it said.
“Global Bersih has confirmed with the Election Commission that overseas Malaysians will be using the existing overseas postal voting system to vote for GE-15,” the group, an international chapter of polls watchdog Bersih 2.0, said in a statement.
“Therefore, we 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 short notice for registration has caused delays and backlogs in the past, putting pressure on EC officers to process applications and for voters to meet the deadline, the group’s steering committee said.
Meanwhile, the requirement for a witness is less practical for Malaysians who live in areas where there are few Malaysian nationals.
It is also asking the polls regulator to extend the campaign period to a minimum of 21-25 days to allow 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, the group said.
Nirmala Devi Windgatter, Global Bersih’s secretary-general, suggested these changes can be made even if the general election is to be held this year since they would be straightforward procedural changes within the discretion of the EC.
“These changes don’t require significant amendments to any existing laws or policies,” she said.
“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.”