Undi18, automatic registration could lead to unfair polls

Electoral reform group Bersih and a research centre claim that Undi18 and automatic voter registration have opened doors for gerrymandering and can lead to the denial of equal representation.

(FMT) – Their spokesmen said this was because urban voters had significantly increased in number over rural voters.

Bersih chairman Thomas Fann said gerrymandering and malapportionment were the main reasons Malaysian elections could not be considered fair.

He said urban constituencies were more likely to be gerrymandered than rural constituencies.

“For example, P102 Bangi has around 300,000 voters while P207 Igan has less than 30,000,” he told FMT.

In a research paper published by Singapore’s ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in June, political analyst James Chai said the implementation of Undi18 and automatic voter registration had aggravated malapportionment since the new young voters tended to be in urban areas.

Merdeka Center research officer Ted Lee said automatic voter registration had increased the disparity between rural and urban constituencies.

He said malapportionment gave candidates running in rural constituencies an advantage as they would need to obtain fewer votes to win.

“You need to get more votes in urban areas. For example, winning a seat in an urban constituency may require 100,000 votes while winning one in a neighbouring rural constituency may need only 30,000 votes,” he told FMT.

“This gives room to politicians to manoeuvre the one-man-one-vote value, thus maximising the value of their supporters while minimising the influence of potential opposition supporters.”

Lee said the only way to address the repercussions of this voter influx would be through the redelineation of seats, but he conceded that this would not be possible before the Nov 19 general election.

The Federal Constitution states that electoral boundary delineation could be done once every eight years.

The last delineation exercise for the Peninsula and Sabah was in 2018. For Sarawak, it was in 2015.

“This means it would not be possible to redraw the boundaries until after 2026 for the Peninsula and Sabah, and after 2023 for Sarawak,” Fann said.

“In short, nothing can be done to change the boundaries until then.”