Friday, September 09, 2011

Automatic Registration Must be Top of Poll Reform Agenda

DAP wants automatic registration to be top of poll reform agenda
By Shannon Teoh September 08, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 8 — The DAP has called for automatic voter registration to be implemented before a general election expected as soon as November after dismissing the Election Commission’s (EC) excuses for discrepancies in the electoral roll as “data entry errors.”

Lawmakers from the opposition party dismissed today deputy EC chief Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar’s explanation for 22 cases of “same-sex marriages” in an army camp in Rasah as isolated cases which were accidentally “overlooked.”

“The parliamentary select committee into electoral reforms must make automatic voter registration its number one priority,” DAP publicity chief Tony Pua said after claiming over 117 cases of old identity card (IC) holders that have spawned two new IC numbers on the electoral roll.

The Petaling Jaya Utara MP added that “we are talking about thousands of such data entry errors. There is a simple way to eliminate all this and that is to automatically register all voters” when they reach the voting age of 21.

Rasah MP Anthony Loke had also claimed today a dozen more cases where spouses of army personnel in Rembau, Gemas and his own constituency held ICs whose numbers indicated the wrong gender.

He had said on Tuesday that as the IC numbers clearly did not belong to the spouses, their “own IC numbers can still be registered elsewhere and someone can vote twice. It doesn’t matter who. The issue is an extra vote can be made.”

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng also said that “they already have the database at the National Registration Department (NRD) and with computers everything can be done very quickly.”

“Why doesn’t the EC want to implement automatic registration? In the next election Barisan Nasional (BN) will cheat bigger than in the previous one and do anything and everything, including resorting to phantom voters,” the Penang chief minister added.

Pua also said that under the Election Act, the EC had the power to decide how the electoral roll was constituted but as it has so far refused to make any changes, Parliament had to amend the law to implement automatic voter registration.

Pakatan Rakyat (PR) has continued to highlight discrepancies in the electoral roll since the July 9 Bersih rally which saw tens of thousands pouring into the capital calling for free and fair elections.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced last month a parliamentary select committee to improve the electoral system but the federal opposition has insisted that the prime minister guarantee that the panel’s findings be implemented before a general election expected within the year.

PR had previously claimed that over 1,600 foreigners had been given ICs and inserted into the electoral roll before Loke on Tuesday raised the issue of spouses of army officers being given postal voting rights despite irregularities in their IC numbers and birthdates.

He claimed that the 30-odd examples he had produced so far were registered using the IC of the military personnel as nearly all shared the same birth date as their husband or wife.

“We do not even know whether the spouses really exist,” the DAP Youth chief said.
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