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CNA Explains: How does postal voting work for Malaysia’s 15th general election?

CNA Explains: How does postal voting work for Malaysia’s 15th general election?

File photo of Malaysia's postal votes. (Photo: Bernama)

KUALA LUMPUR: As soon as Malaysia’s parliament was dissolved last Monday (Oct 10), the Election Commission (EC) began to accept postal voting applications for the 15th General Election (GE15).

Malaysians who are currently residing overseas can apply online at the EC website until the deadline set by the commission.

The EC previously said in a statement that the deadline for submissions will be announced once the election date has been set.

On Thursday, the EC will have a special meeting to discuss and set important dates for GE15 and the state by-election for Bugaya in Sabah. 

The polling day date is expected to be announced on Thursday after the conclusion of the meeting.

On Oct 10, caretaker prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob declared the parliament dissolved in a televised address, after receiving consent from the king.

Since then, the states of Perak, Perlis and Pahang have also dissolved their legislatures. This means that state polls for these places will be held concurrently with the national election.

Here’s what you need to know if you are planning to cast your vote by post:

WHO IS ELIGIBLE?

Former de facto law minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar previously told parliament that the EC would abolish conditions for postal voting which were put in place during GE14 back in 2018.

According to local media, only those who had lived in or returned to Malaysia for 30 days or more in the past five years, could apply for postal voting.

Previously, those who were living in southern Thailand (Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala, Songkhla and Satun), Singapore, Brunei or Kalimantan did not qualify for postal voting and had to travel to Malaysia to cast their ballots.

The above conditions have been abolished. 

"With the abolition of these conditions, Malaysian citizens who are abroad and are registered voters are eligible to apply as postal voters," Mr Wan Junaidi said in a parliamentary written reply to a question by then Jerlun member of parliament Mukhriz Mahathir in early October.

According to Global Bersih - an international movement of overseas Malaysians - all overseas Malaysians above the age of 18 who have a permanent overseas address and have registered on the EC website are eligible for postal voting. 

This includes students who are overseas. However, those who are on holiday overseas will not be allowed to register as postal voters.

Applicants must provide details such as their passport numbers, reasons for living overseas and their mailing addresses.

According to Global Bersih, those who voted in the previous elections via post will need to submit a fresh application as a postal voter for every election.

Additionally, those who have registered could check the status of their applications on the EC website. If the applications are successful, voters would also receive an email confirming their application.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER YOU APPLY?

Once you are registered as an overseas postal voter, the EC will send an envelope containing the ballot to your overseas address by post after nomination day.

The envelope sent by the EC should contain the ballots – for the parliament and state seats (if applicable).  

The ballots will also have to be placed in other separate envelopes that are included in the envelope sent by EC to the postal voter.     

There will be a set of instructions for voters on the back of Form 2.

Voters must read this page and complete the form. This also requires the personal information and signature of a witness who must also be a Malaysian citizen. 

Incomplete forms may result in the ballot paper being rejected. 

All ballot papers must be returned to the returning officers in the respective constituencies before 6pm on polling day.

The returning officers have been designated by the EC to oversee the voting process.

Postal voters can mail their ballots back to Malaysia via postal services. Voters will be responsible for the cost of postage.

Alternatively, postal voters can travel back to Malaysia and physically drop the documents into the ballot boxes.

Similar to GE14 in May 2018, several organisations have announced initiatives to help bring back postal votes from abroad.

The Undi18 initiative, for instance, aims to collect 50,000 postal ballots from all over the world and aims to raise RM500,000 (US$106,025) to cover the costs of operations and logistics throughout the period of GE15.  

It aims to facilitate the process of sending postal ballots from overseas to the respective counting stations in Malaysia with the help of students, volunteers and overseas Malaysians.

In the Johor elections held in March this year, the organisation collected and delivered ballots cast by voters who were based in Singapore.

Source: CNA/rv(aw)
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