PETALING JAYA: Bersih 2.0 has accused the Election Commission (EC) of making the electoral roll worse instead of clearing it up by refusing to give copies of the draft supplementary roll for the first quarter of this year.
The electoral watchdog claimed the move, which would favour the ruling party, was no less than an act of sabotage.
“This will be the first time that the EC is not giving political parties the soft copy of the draft; nor would political parties be able to buy the hard copy,” its steering committee said in a statement today.
“The EC did not give any reason for its decision, merely saying that it suffices for interested parties to view the roll at the 960 designated places across the country.”
It said political parties now had only 10 days from today till May 22 to sift through some 500 pages for just one parliamentary constituency, with an average of 1,500 names, to make sure all was in order.
“And they will need to go through the draft supplementary roll for all 222 parliamentary constituencies,” it said.
The committee described the EC’s move as a “deliberate attempt” to constrict an important avenue to fight for a clean electoral roll.
“Such control of information in favour of the ruling party raises the question – is the EC taking orders from its ‘political masters’?
“If not, it is being ridiculous by not being in touch with technology, which is supposed to help it work better.”
It said if the EC continued to keep silent on this and many other electoral irregularities, it can only be concluded that the agency does not want its wrongdoings to be exposed and is actually working to compromise the roll.
“This is no less than an act of sabotage by the very institution whose mission is stated as ‘upholding the parliamentary democratic system and ensuring the right of citizens to choose their representatives by managing, monitoring and conducting elections freely and fairly’.”
The committee said the EC’s move appeared to be in response to recent exposés by numerous parties, including Bersih 2.0 itself, of illegal shifting of voters in the draft supplementary roll in the third and fourth quarters of 2016.
“We have also warned that the number of dubious voters will continue to increase in subsequent quarters as we get closer to elections,” it said.
“As it is, instead of helping to expel phantom voters from the roll, the EC is actually frustrating such checks and even doing the opposite by ‘hiding’ such dubious voters from being detected before the roll is gazetted for the coming 14th general election.”
It added that it had also warned interested parties, including ordinary voters, to be vigilant against phantom voters and to check the draft quarterly roll for their presence.
“The EC must explain why after having given out the drafts in soft copy over the past years it suddenly decided to stop doing so.
“What has changed detrimentally and for whom? What is the EC worried about? And why now (that) even an ordinary member of the public cannot get his hands on a copy of the draft?”
On April 30, EC secretary Abdul Ghani Salleh confirmed that the agency had issued instructions to state election directors to stop the distribution of the first quarter draft of the supplementary electoral roll to political parties.
He said the decision was made at the EC meeting on March 28 and based on rule 13 of the Election Regulations (Registration of Voters) 2002.