Time running out for Malaysians overseas yet to apply to vote

PETALING JAYA: The deadline is looming for Malaysians overseas who have yet to apply to vote by post.

The application period, which opened on Jan 23, ends on the day Parliament is dissolved.

With dissolution widely expected as early as Friday, this means that the deadline could be just 48 hours away.

“The application period will be closed at midnight on the day Parliament is dissolved. Applications received after this will not be processed,” said an Election Commission (EC) official.

He declined to reveal how many Malaysians overseas had applied to be postal voters since Jan 23, saying that an announcement would be made soon.

On Feb 9, EC chairman Tan Sri Mohd Hashim Abdullah said the EC had received 828 postal voting applications from Malaysians overseas since applications opened, of which 285 were approved.

He said the highest number of applications were from Malaysians living or working in Britain, the United States, Australia, Hong Kong and Germany.

Mohd Hashim also said there were 3,601 Malaysians abroad who had registered as absent voters.

Absent voters also qualify to vote by post and comprise diplomats, those in the Armed Forces, public servants, full-time students and their spouses.

To qualify as an overseas Malaysian postal voter, a person must be a registered voter.

The overseas Malaysian must have been in Malaysia for no less than 30 days within the five-year period before the Dewan Rakyat and state assemblies is dissolved.

There are two separate postal voting application processes for Malaysians overseas.

The first is for absent voters, and the second is for other overseas Malaysians who meet the EC’s criteria to cast their ballots by post.

Those who live in southern Thailand – namely in the region of Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala, Songkhla and Satun – as well as in Singapore, Brunei and Kalimantan do not qualify for postal voting and must return to Malaysia to vote.

Besides absent voters, postal voting was opened up for other Malaysians living and working overseas since the last general election in 2013.

Then, 8,756 Malaysians overseas registered to vote by post.

This general election will also see a change in the way postal voting is conducted for overseas Malay­sians.

In 2013, ballot papers were sent to the Malaysian diplomatic mission nearest to the voter.

The voter would then mark their ballots, which were then mailed by the mission to the EC.

This time around, the ballots will be mailed by the EC directly to the voter at their given overseas address.

After marking the ballots, the voter will have to return the envelope containing the ballot back to their respective Returning Officer (RO) at their own cost using any delivery or courier service.

The ballots must reach the RO before 5pm on polling day.

Applicants need to fill out Form 1B which can be downloaded from the EC website at www.spr.gov.my.

The completed form can be submitted by email to upup@spr.gov.my.

For details, call 03-88810081 or email upup@spr.gov.my.

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