32 political parties agree to lower voting age to 18

EC chairman Azhar Azizan Harun says all the political parties that attended a meeting today agreed with a proposal for the automatic registration of voters.

PUTRAJAYA: Thirty-two of the 51 registered political parties in the country agree with the proposal to lower the voting age from 21 to 18, according to the Election Commission (EC).

These parties had sent their representatives to the maiden meeting with the EC today on the voter registration exercise, said EC chairman Azhar Azizan Harun.

“None of the political parties objected to the proposal,” he said after the meeting at the EC headquarters here.

The Cabinet agreed on Sept 19 to amend the Federal Constitution to lower the voting age to 18. A bill on the amendment is expected to be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat next month.

Azhar said all the parties that attended the meeting also agreed with the proposal for the automatic registration of voters but they wanted the EC to study the process and its effect on the voters.

“This is because the automatic registration will be according to the address on the identity card and there is a possibility that the voters cannot return, for example, to Kelantan or Klang to vote.

“That, I feel, requires an understanding of the policy but, in principle, they support the proposal,” he said.

Asked when these two proposals can be implemented, Azhar said the EC required some time because they involved amendments to the Federal Constitution.

On calls for the EC to conduct another redelineation of the electoral boundaries due to protests against the one carried out last year, he said the exercise could only be done once in eight years, as provided for in the Federal Constitution.

However, he said, the EC would conduct an analysis of the redelineation process to determine whether it was carried out fairly and legally.

“If it is found that the process was unfair or unconstitutional, I will make a proposal on how it should be done,” he said, adding that a committee has to be set up to obtain views, particularly from academicians and statisticians.

Azhar also said that the political parties requested the EC to waive the payment for raising objections over the electoral roll. It is currently RM10 for each objection and RM100 for an objection that is dismissed.

“This must be given much thought because we have to strike a balance between genuine and false objections,” he said.

Azhar said other issues discussed included the clean-up of the electoral roll, a proposal to revive the appointment of assistant registrars from political parties, online registration of voters, many voters registered under one address, phantom voters and voters 100 years old and above.

He also confirmed that the EC has received a report from Bersih 2.0 on the misconduct of candidates of the recent Port Dickson parliamentary by-election and will study the report.

Bersih 2.0 steering committee executive director Yap Swee Seng reportedly said that Pakatan Harapan candidate Anwar Ibrahim had allegedly committed six offences and PAS candidate Lt Col (Rtd) Mohd Nazari Mokhtar four offences during the by-election campaign.