Outstation voters not keen to return to cast ballots, saying it’s ‘just state elections’

Work commitments, expensive travel, among reasons voters are not returning to their hometown to vote

(Scoop) – Voter turnout for the six state elections this time might see a drop with most out-of-state voters appearing reluctant to return to their constituencies to vote.

One of Selangor voters working in Sabah, Dr Timothy Cheng who is currently stationed in Sandakan, said he will not be able to vote because of work commitments.

He also said he had missed the postal vote registration that ended on July 8.

“I believe a lot of us (hospital staff from the six election states) are also unable to go back to vote, and most of us have also missed the registration date for the postal vote.”

The postal vote is an option for those working in Malaysia if they are healthcare workers, security personnel, media practitioners, and Election Commission personnel on duty on polling day.

Athirah, a secondary school teacher in Sandakan, Sabah, also said she is not returning to Selangor to vote because of the expensive flight fare.

“I know other teachers from the peninsula who are currently teaching in Sabah are not returning to vote.

“Most of us have purchased flight tickets to the peninsula for the school holiday on August 26, so I don’t think teachers will go back to vote,” she said, adding that the Sandakan-Kuala Lumpur return flight cost about RM600 per person.

A 29-year-old freelance photographer, Hing, who is working here but votes in Terengganu, said he will not be going back to vote.

He said he was unaware of the polling day until recently, but he had accepted a job that coincided with polling day this Saturday.

“But I don’t think it is important, because it only determines the state government, it is not major, and it does not concern the federal government nor will it change the prime minister.”

Another 31-year-old Chinese youth, Chan Xing Yee, who is working in marketing here is not going back to Kelantan to vote because she is working this Saturday.

“As far as I know, we are not given a special holiday to go to vote, so I am not going back.”

Grab driver, Azman Hussin, said he is still deciding if he wants to return to Kedah to vote.

The Pakatan Harapan (PH) supporter said that if he returns, the polling day would just be an excuse for him to visit his elderly mother, which would be his primary purpose.

“I think people don’t see the state election as something important to be compared to the general election because it only (concerns) the state government. Plus, people have voted less than a year ago.”

The polling day for Selangor (56 seats), Penang (40 seats), Kedah (36 seats), Kelantan (45 seats), Terengganu (32 seats), and Negri Sembilan (36 seats) falls on August 12, with early voting on August 8.

Voters here last voted during the 15th general election (GE15) on November 19 last year, only nine months ago.

It is the first time that these states are conducting their polls separately from the general election.

During the GE15, the voter turnout was recorded at 74.04% out of about 21 million voters. It was however lower than the turnout during the 2018 general election, which saw an 82.32% turnout out of approximately 14 million of registered voters.

The six state elections involved a total of 9,773,571 eligible voters – Selangor has 3,747,057 voters, followed by Kedah (1,585,085), Kelantan (1,411,912), Penang (1,234,198), Terengganu (930,894) and Negri Sembilan (864,425).