PETALING JAYA: The voter turnout for the by-elections in Balakong, Seri Setia and Sungai Kandis was the lowest in the past nine years.
According to the Election Commission, Balakong had a voter turnout of 43% while only 44% of voters cast their ballots in Seri Setia.
Last month’s Sungai Kandis by-election saw a turnout of 49.8%.
This is a far cry from the 14th General Election on May 9 that saw an overall huge voter turnout of 82.32%, despite it being held on a weekday.
In fact, these three seats registered a previous turnout that was above the national average – Balakong (88.2%), Seri Setia (84.44%) and Sungai Kandis (85.8%).
The poor turnout in the three by-elections is the lowest since 2009.
Most state and parliamentary by-elections held between 2009 and 2017 recorded a voter turnout of 70% to 80%, with the lower percentages hovering around 65%.
On May 31, 2009, the Penanti by-election recorded only 46.15% or 7,100 voters casting their ballots.
That by-election saw PKR’s Datuk Mansor Othman winning the seat, paving the way for him to be appointed as Penang deputy chief minister I.
Subsequent by-elections that saw less than 60% turnout were the March 2015 Chempaka by-election at 55% and the May 2014 Bukit Gelugor by-election (56.04%).
For voter Shakila Uthandy, 52, she was surprised with the poor response as she thought the turnout would be similar to GE14.
“That time (GE14), we had to queue up for a long time. Today (yesterday), I was really shocked. I had expected a long queue,” she said.
Seri Setia voter Rokiah Abas, 58, said voter fatigue could be among the contributing factors.
“It’s okay for people like us to follow through the three-week campaign. But the youngsters are not that interested in such matters,” she said when met at SK Kampung Lindungan after casting her vote.
Still, the three-week campaigning period felt too long for Rokiah.
“We are sick of it (ceramah). We are fed up with the good and bad political stories and it bothers us sometimes,” the housewife said.
However, another voter, Matthew San, 59, said the three-week campaigning period was necessary for candidates from both sides of the political divide to reach out to voters.