Saturday, August 27, 2011

Election Commission Must Punish Errant Registrars

Reveal and punish errant registrars, DAP tells EC
UPDATED @ 01:40:13 PM 26-08-2011 By Clara Chooi August 26, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 26 — DAP today demanded the Selangor Election Commission (EC) reveal the political parties which have been registering permanent residents as voters and penalise those found responsible.

DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua suggested that errant assistant registrars should be punished by having their licenses stripped or suspended for six months if at least 30 per cent of their voter registration forms were found with errors like the registration of permanent residents or the dead, incorrect addresses and dual registrations.

He told a press conference here that the Selangor EC’s letter on Monday to political parties was a clear admission that certain political parties have been attempting to register such un-eligible voters.

In the letter distributed to reporters today, the Selangor EC had complained that “nearly 50 per cent” of voters registered by assistant registrars recently had to be rejected as some applicants were found to be already deceased; their addresses did not reflect their MyKad details; they were registered twice before; and some were found to be permanent residents with no voting rights.

To curb a repeat of such discrepancies, the Selangor EC ordered all assistant registrars to submit a photocopy of the voters’ MyKads along with their application forms.

But Pua lamented the solution, saying this would not only punish the errant registrars but also the honest ones.

“With this new regulation, it makes it hard for us to register voters and it slows down the process.

“We go to supermarkets, malls, offices, night markets and so on for our voter registration drives ... where are we to find power points and photocopy machines to make a copy of their MyKads? And what if the voters refuse to produce the copies because they are afraid that we may use it for something else?” he said.

He claimed that only about 10 per cent of forms submitted by the DAP’s 60 registrars in Selangor contained errors compared to 70 per cent by some undisclosed parties.

Pua added that with automatic voter registration, the commission would not have to hire thousands of data entry clerks to record voter details or appoint assistant registrars to help with the new voter registration process. At present, each political party is allowed to appoint two registrars for every state constituency.

“If you want to talk about freedom of choice, that some voters may not want to be registered at all, then what about having MyKads ... do we have freedom of choice there? In any case, they are merely turned into eligible voters automatically when they turn 21 but they can still choose not to vote,” he said.

Pua said that in order to implement automatic voter registration, the EC does not need to amend any election law as the present legislation already grants the commission authority to decide how voters are registered.

Automatic voter registration is one of the key demands made by election watchdog Bersih 2.0.

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