Voter education: EC’s top priority in 2020

PUTRAJAYA, The Election Commission (EC) is making voter education its top priority this year and is planning to visit 2,400 secondary schools nationwide for this purpose, said EC chairman Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun.

“We want to visit schools, engage with Form 4 students and conduct simulation of the election to introduce the system to them, he said, adding that the module for the voter education was ready.

The respective state ECs will conduct the programmes, he said.

We will make public the module so that no party can raise allegations of us trying to indoctrinate students. We are not in the business of indoctrinating anybody but we just want to educate the students,” he told reporters here today.

Earlier, Azhar received a courtesy call from the Special Select Committee on Election and Special Select Committee on Major Public Appointments’ delegation.

On the development of automatic voter registration of 18-year-old citizens, Azhar said the computer system contract has been finalised but he has no further details on the contract, such as the company involved or the contract value.

According to him, the EC expects the lowering of the voting age to 18 and automatic voter registration, to be implemented by the middle of next year.

He said the EC had also manually identified that over two million people were expected to become new voters when the system is implemented.

“When a person is registered as a voter, we have to look at his or her address to determine the locality. The locality will also determine where he or she will vote.

“Though the system and laws are still not in place the EC secretariat has processed this manually to determine the localities.

“When the system is implemented we will be well-prepared,” he said.

On the recommendation by the Electoral Reform Committee to restructure the EC to three independent entities, Azhar said he was willing to accept the proposal.

“If there is a proposal to set up a different agency for the election process or to redelienate the electoral boundaries and so forth, if these could improve matters, I support them.

“For instance should there be an agency to look into the redelienation exercise and its establishment could improve the electoral process, I’m all for anything that could make things better,” he said.

The ERC, in its interim report, submitted 49 recommendations on electoral reform to the government, for the purpose of improving the system and encouraging transparency.

When asked about online voting (e-voting), Azhar said the involvement and views of experts and stakeholders were needed before any decisions could be made.

“We want more engagements and we still need expert opinion.

“We need to satisfy voters that by using the system, their votes are safe. This is something that is difficult for us to prove, and of course we are also afraid of hackers. We need to look into this,” he said.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency