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Friday, March 30, 2012

Flawed voter roll: Fraud only one of causes


Other reasons for irregularities include rapid urbanisation, voter apathy and the EC's inertia, according to a study.
PETALING JAYA: Fraud is only one of many causes of irregularities in the electoral roll, according to research carried out by the National Institute for Democracy and Electoral Integrity (NIEI).
NIEI’s report says other causes include inertia on the part of the Election Commission (EC), disinterest among voters, rapid urbanisation and what it calls the “problem of cluster voting”, referring to the bulk movement of voters.
The report, titled Creating a Robust and Transparent Electoral Process in Malaysia Together, was disclosed to the media today by NIEI acting chairman K Shan. The research was done with the help of the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and the polling organisation Merdeka Centre.
“It is not fraud per se,” Shan said in reference to causes of irregularities. “We are not in the best position to make such a statement. But the irregularities concern rapid urbanisation, changes in technologies, changes in demographics and such.”
According to the report, 92% of addresses sampled were identifiable. Of the addresses that could not be identified, most were concentrated in urban areas.
“This is due to the rapid development, especially in KL, where urban settlers are constantly moving,” said Shan.
The study also found that only a third of the voters with identifiable addresses were still residing there.
This would present a problem to those wanting to determine whether these were authentic voters, Shan said.
“This problem can also be caused by cluster voting, where political parties from both sides transfer voters in bulk to an area to ensure their victory. These are desperate measures taken by all political parties.”
Shan also said that some voters just do not have the time to change their voting addresses to their current addresses. “The EC is also not proactive in working with the local council to verify and rectify these changes.”
The study was based on the electoral roll of 2010, before the Bersih rally in July 2011, in which thousands took to the streets demanding free and fair elections. Since then, the registration of voters has rapidly increased.
In 2011, more than one million new voters were registered.
The researchers interviewed 2,400 people nationwide for the study, which was done with the consent of the EC.
Other points made in the report include:
  • Only two voters shared the same MyKad number. Most voters listed in the electoral roll and their MyKad details were accurately captured, although there were typographical errors
  • Only 6% of those polled could not find their names on the electoral roll. More than half had not checked their registration status.
  • Selangor topped the list of states with unidentifiable voters. Out of 306 polled, 77 cases could not be identified. Kuala Lumpur came second, with 57 cases and Johor third, with 50 cases.
  • Muslim Bumiputeras formed the highest number of unregistered voters at 23%, followed by non-Muslim Bumiputeras in East Malaysia (17%).
  • Those aged between 21 and 30 were the largest group of unregistered voters (30%).

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