(Download the full MERAP Final Report here)
The Malaysian Electoral Roll Analysis Project (MERAP) started in February 2012 with the following objectives: “to conducting a comprehensive analysis of all possible problems in the electoral roll across time and space; to highlight different areas of responsibility / jurisdiction of different government agencies pertaining to problems with the electoral roll; and to propose methods by which these problems in the electoral roll can be reduced / rectified”.
With a team of four comprising MERAP Director, Dr. Ong Kian Ming, a lecturer and political analyst at UCSI University and three researchers discovered far more problems with the electoral roll than originally anticipated. In total, 25 types of problems were discovered in the electoral roll, 15 pertaining to non-postal voters and 10 pertaining to postal voters (See Appendix 1 for full list of problems).
Some of the preliminary findings of MERAP were published on Malaysiakini (see Appendix 2 for links to these articles) and has been reported both in the mainstream as well as online press.
MERAP is disappointed that the Election Commission has not been sincere in its offer to have a constructive engagement regarding the problems which the project team has discovered in the electoral roll. After a closed door presentation by MERAP to the Election Commission on the 5th of July, 2012, which was facilitated by the Majlis Professor Negara (MPN), the Election Commission chairman, Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof, extended an offer to Dr. Ong Kian Ming to have future closed door dialogue sessions where the EC would respond and clarify to other additional problems discovered in the electoral roll. MERAP then provided the EC with a 36 page report on problems pertaining to postal voters in the electoral roll on the 1st of August, 2012. The EC initially promised to meet with MERAP after the Hari Raya holidays at the end of August 2012. After Dr. Ong announced his decision to join the DAP on the 27th of August, 2012, the EC responded by saying ‘since you have become a leader of a political party holding a position, the EC can no longer meet you as an individual. The decision has been made by the EC and has been the policy of the EC. The engagement (meet eye to eye) with the EC has to come from the political party. This is to ensure fairness to all political parties’. MERAP finds this response totally unacceptable as Dr. Ong has not resigned from his position as an academic at UCSI nor has MERAP suddenly stopped being an academic study just because Dr. Ong has joined a political party.
This is symptomatic of a larger pattern exhibited by the EC of being defensive when being criticized and wanting to dictate its own terms when working with other stakeholders who are interested in making the electoral process in Malaysia more fair and transparent.
It is noteworthy that two out of the six recommendations made by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reform which have not been implemented or in the process of being implemented – the setting up of a special task force to deal with voters who submit false information; and allowing NGOs and political parties to object to the gazetted electoral rollLabels – have to do with the accuracy of the electoral roll, which is the focus area of study for MERAP. (For the record, MERAP believes that there are more than six recommendations by the PSC which have not or are not in the process of being implemented, the most important being the cleaning up of the electoral roll). MERAP notes that there have been, to our knowledge, no reported cases of any individual for making false statements during the process of voter registration even though there is a provision in the Election Offences Act 1954 that makes this an offense.
MERAP makes the following EIGHT recommendations to strengthen the process of ensuring that the electoral roll is accurate and transparent:
(i) Strengthen legislation to make any attempt to manipulate the electoral roll by any person or party, including the paying voters to change their IC address for the purposes of changing voting constituency, illegal and punishable by imprisonment or fine or both
(ii) Thorough review of the process of issuing ICs and changing IC numbers undertaken by the National Registration Department / Jabatan Pendaftara Negara
(iii) Establishment of an investigation team by the EC which includes involvement of political parties, the police and civil society stakeholders to conduct on the ground investigations into possible manipulation of the electoral roll including problematic voter registrations
(iv) Establish a Parliamentary Select Committee on the Electoral Roll as recommended by the PSC on Electoral Reform to have oversight over the EC’s efforts to clean up the roll and also to question and make accountable the National Registration Department
(v) Allowing political parties and civil society stakeholders to make objections to the quarterly electoral roll updates as well as the already gazetted electoral roll
(vi) Raising the limit on the number of objections which a person can make and abolishing the fee for each objection
(vii) Publish and make available complete quarterly updates and gazetted electoral roll to political parties and civil society stakeholders
(viii) Strengthening capacity within the EC and among the political parties and civil society stakeholders to detect potential problems in the electoral roll
Needless to say, all of the recommendations require the cooperation of the EC as well as the related government agencies and ministers in order for them to be implemented. In terms of strengthening capacity to detect potential problems in the electoral roll, MERAP has prepared a preliminary ‘Do-It-Yourself’ kit where anyone with access to a personal computer and a spreadsheet program / software such as excel could analyze any electoral roll of any constituency in order to detect potential problems.
MERAP may continue with further research and investigations into the electoral roll if it is successful in future funding applications. MERAP would like to encourage political parties and civil society stakeholders to continue to highlight problems pertaining to the electoral roll as these problems can be found in each quarterly electoral roll update. The final MERAP report, the DIY kit and MERAP related press articles and videos can be found at the following website: http://malaysianelectoralrollproject.blogspot.com/
Appendix 1: Full list of Problems Discovered in the Electoral Roll by MERAP
Non-Postal Voter Problems
1. Voters who are above 85 years old
2. Voters with the same name and some with the same / similar date of birth
3. Voters with the same name and address
4. Voters who share the same old IC number
5. Voters whose old ICs were ‘transferred’ to another voter
6. Voters being given New New IC numbers
7. Mismatch in the Date of Birth
8. Mismatch in the gender indicated by the IC number and EC data
9. Kod 71 voters with only one name
10. Voters who do not have House Addresses / No Rumah, even though other newly registered voters in the same locality have House Addresses / No Rumah
11. Many Voters registered in one address
12. ‘Foreigners’ in the Electoral Roll
13. Unknown Additions to and Deletions from the Electoral Roll
14. Kod-J Government Agency registering suspicious voters
15. Voters whose IC address is different from their voting constituency
Postal Voter Problems
1. Retaining both the status of ordinary and postal voter
2. Marrying oneself
3. “Flipping” of postal voter IDs
4. Same voter begin added and deleted in the same quarterly update
5. Double registration of postal voters’ spouse
6. Flipping of IC
7. Police officers starting their careers around / above their retirement age
8. Spouse of army personnel being converted as army personnel above maximum recruitment age
9. Army recruit at above maximum recruitment age and gets transferred around
10. Spouse of Non GOF / PGA police force registered as postal voter
Appendix 2: MERAP’s Preliminary Findings published in Malaysiakini
1. 10 Major Problems in the EC’s electoral roll (April 7, 2012): http://malaysiakini.com/news/194373
2. ‘Dubious’ voters may decide GE13 (April 8, 2012): http://malaysiakini.com/news/194435
3. Electoral Roll: What else is the EC Hiding (April 24, 2012): http://malaysiakini.com/news/195823
4. EC has not been honest in its rebuttals (May 7, 2012): http://malaysiakini.com/news/197145
5. Non-resident voters: EC economizes with ‘truth’ (May 24, 2012):http://malaysiakini.com/news/198179
6. Questionable foreign born voters in the electoral roll (June 2, 2012):http://malaysiakini.com/news/199721
7. The strange case of recycled ICs in Sabah (June 14, 2012): http://malaysiakini.com/news/200815