Friday, 27 July 2012

EC must focus on solutions, not explanations

EC must focus on solutions,
not explanations
Press Statement issued by BERSIH 2.0
26 July 2012

BERSIH 2.0 views the latest publication by the Election Commission (EC) “Electoral Roll: Issues and Clarifications” as a mistaken placement of priorities by the commission and wishes to remind it to focus on the most urgent task at hand: cleaning up the electoral process.

We maintain that the efforts of the EC in cleaning up the electoral roll, if any, are superficial and have failed to comprehensively address the irregularities and fraud that plague the electoral roll. Instances of electoral fraud are dismissed as clerical errors and one-off mistakes. In its latest booklet, the EC continues to portray itself as powerless to address the concerns raised by BERSIH 2.0 and other electoral reform groups.

Thus, BERSIH 2.0 calls on the EC to conduct a thorough investigation to identify the shortcomings mentioned in its booklet. Passing the buck on to the National Registration Department (NRD) is a convenient excuse and does not show the EC’s sincerity in wanting to maintain a clean, accurate and up to date electoral roll.

Issues 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9: Dubious voters in the electoral roll

In its response, the EC has swept the 3.1 million dubious voters under the carpet. The issue of contention is not where voters can vote but rather, why is it that when voters upgrade from old ICs to new ICs, their voting constituencies change as well, especially when they have never lived in those constituencies before. Another issue of contention is the presence of house addresses with many registered voters. Evidences have shown some of these houses have Malay, Chinese and Indian registered voters who in all likelihood do not even know of each other’s existence. In some cases, some of these voters were not even allocated a house number but were registered using a street name.

BERSIH 2.0 asserts that instead of relying on citizens to report to the NRD that their relatives have died and then depending on the NRD to inform the EC, the EC should, on its own initiative, conduct regular checks to see if voters who are above a certain age (e.g. over 100 years old) are still alive or not. After all, the EC has access to information on where these voters are supposedly residing. It would not be too troublesome to send out EC teams to track down voters who are above a certain age.

By doing so, the EC can play a proactive role in identifying the problems which prevent the NRD from capturing and then passing on the information regarding dead voters who must then be removed from the electoral roll. The fear here is that the identity of dead voters may be used by irresponsible parties to cast a vote during election time. While it is acknowledged that dead voters can be of all ages above 21, a good place to start identifying these voters would be among the older voters who are more likely to have passed on but remain on the electoral roll.

Issue 3 and 5: Confused Genders, Same name and/or same date of birth

The EC should be proactive to identify the problems associated with IC numbers with mismatched genders. According to the EC’s booklet, their consultations with the NRD led them to conclude that “it is normal for a male to have an even number as the last digit of his 12-digit number in his MyKad.”
If this was indeed normal, previous findings by the Malaysian Electoral Roll Analysis Project (MERAP) indicate that there would be more than the 15,000 of these cases identified, which isabout 1.2% of the 13 million eligible voters. The fact that there are ‘relatively’ few cases occurring means that they should be properly investigated to understand the nature of these mismatches.

Many of the cases highlighted by MERAP were cases involving ICs in Sabah, where instances of ICs being ‘transferred’ from one voter to another, sometimes of different genders, have been well documented. It is a reasonable public expectation that the EC should try to conduct its own investigation into these issues.

Cases of gender mismatches have been observed in the EC’s own database where Malays with male names (indicated by “BIN”) and Indians with male names (indicated by A/L) have been classified as female and vice versa. A thorough investigation into these cases will show if these mistakes were a result of the EC’s own data entry errors or if they originated from the NRD’s own database.

Issue 4: Electors with incomplete addresses

Registered voters with incomplete addresses had been identified in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur. MERAP has identified cases where newly registered voters in the same locality do not have house numbers and sometimes street names even though other newly registered voters in the same locality have house numbers and street names. The EC’s explanation was that these voters do not have complete house addresses because they live in squatter areas and on temporary occupied land.

A case in point is where EC refuted MIMOS claim that there were more than 50 voters registered in one address. EC claimed that voters registered before 2011 in Kampung Melayu Majidee, Johor Bahru had complete house numbers and street names and some with incomplete addresses. One would expect that these errors would be corrected. But even after 2011, it was found that 56 out of 57 newly registered voters still did not have house numbers or even street names and 55 out of 56 of these voters had the 71 code in their IC indicating that they were born overseas.

The system set up by the EC to check on voters registration is inadequate. The dedicated link set up by the EC to ‘track down’ voters who are registered in addresses or localities containing many registered voters ( only include voters without house numbers. This excludes the problem of voters in houses with specific house numbers and street names having an inordinately large number of voters registered in them. This clearly goes against the MIMOS exercise which has identified not just localities with many voters without house numbers and street names but also specific addresses with many voters registered in them.

Issue 9 and 10: Dubious new electors from the army and police

While the EC has said that spouses of the General Operations Force (GOF) are eligible to be postal voters, MERAP’s analysis shows that there are still spouses of the regular police force who are registered as postal voters including many who are registered in various district police headquarters or ibupejabat polis daerah (IPDs).

In addition, the question remains of why spouses of police who are part of the General Operations Force but are located in urban areas such as Cheras should still be registered as postal voters given that it would not be too difficult for these voters to cast their votes as regular voters in a nearby school.

On the issue of retired police or army personnel who are still registered as postal voters, the EC must give assurances that there are sufficient safeguards to prevent other people in either the police or army barracks from using the identities of these voters to cast a postal ballot. In addition, the EC must also give assurances that these retired police and army personnel are also not registered as civilian voters elsewhere. Identifying these types of double registrations is very difficult given that these voters would be registered once using their civilian IC numbers and another time using their police or army IC numbers.

Thus, the EC has failed to meet BERSIH 2.0 Demand #1 – Clean up the electoral roll.  There is a lack of public confidence on the integrity of the present Election Commissioners. BERSIH 2.0 reiterates its call for their immediate resignation as they have failed to meet the rakyat’s call for clean and fair elections.

BERSIH 2.0 demands that the Najib administration carries out a thorough audit on the electoral roll to weed out all dubious voters before the next election.
To view the publication by the EC, click here: English & BM

Thank you.

Steering Committee
Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections 2.0 (BERSIH 2.0)

The Steering Committee of BERSIH 2.0 comprises:
Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan (Co-Chairperson), Datuk A. Samad Said (Co-Chairperson), Ahmad Shukri Abdul Razab, Andrew Ambrose, Andrew Khoo, Anne Lasimbang, Arul Prakkash, Arumugam K., Awang Abdillah, Dr Farouk Musa, Hishamuddin Rais, Liau Kok Fah, Maria Chin Abdullah, Matthew Vincent, Niloh Ason, Richard Y W Yeoh, Dr Subramaniam Pillay, Dato’ Dr Toh Kin Woon, Dr Wong Chin Huat, Dato’ Yeo Yang Poh and Zaid Kamaruddin


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