Bersih urges EC to adopt technology in voter registration

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PETALING JAYA: Electoral reform group Bersih has urged the Election Commission (EC) to reconsider automatic registration that will help save public funds and human resources.

Its chairman Maria Chin Abdullah said the EC could just link up with the National Registration Department (NRD) to register new voters and update its electoral roll.

“The EC should discard its traditional method of doing work in this age of computer technology,” she said in response to a report that 4.2 million eligible citizens have not registered as voters.

Chin said EC officials need not go out to perform their task or the public having to go to post offices to registers as voters.

She said the EC need not worry about cleaning up its electoral roll as the NRD would have information on voters who have passed away or those who have changed their addresses.

“A lot of public funds and human resources could be saved only if the EC is agreeable to link up with the NRD,” she said.

Chin said automatic registration was one of the 15 demands sought by Bersih during a meeting with election commissioners in 2010 but they were giving excuses, adding that this would give voters the option whether to cast their ballots on polling day.

“There is no forcing people to vote and penalise them for failure to carry out their democratic function,” she said.

Chin said the 4.2 million people who were not registered “was a huge number and could make a difference should a general election be held”.

In the 13th general election held on May 5, 2013 there were 13,622,143 voters but only an additional 354,141 people were registered until the second quarter of this year.

Chin also urged civil society to take up the EC’s offer to register voters as it only allowed non-governmental organisations to perform the task.

EC chairman Mohd Hashim Abdullah said his staff could be present at events that drew a large crowd provided there was an invitation from organisers.