SANDAKAN: The Election Commission (EC) is sticking to its target of 70% voter turnout despite the possibility that many of those working elsewhere will not return to vote.
When asked whether the Sandakan by-election may see a lower-than-expected turnout, EC deputy chairman Dr Azmi Sharom said: “It is possible. Some people are away from Sandakan and maybe they think this is just a by-election.
“But all elections are important and we are hoping people will come home to vote. We will maintain our target of 70% turnout.”
Political observers have estimated a voter turnout of only about 60% on the basis that those living and working elsewhere are unlikely to make a trip back for the by-election.
Azmi was speaking to reporters at SMJK Tiong Hua hall on the sidelines of the preparation and inspection of ballot boxes by EC-appointed officers yesterday.
He said there were 798 EC officers for the by-election and they would be on duty at the 19 polling district centres (PDMs) and 90 channels within the parliamentary constituency.
He also said for this by-election, the commission had appointed an additional officer in channel 1 and channel 2, which are for senior citizens and the disabled.
“We have one extra officer at both channels as this group of voters may need assistance.
“That is one of the improvements we have introduced in this by-election,” he said.
On the campaign process, he said the Sandakan by-election posed fewer problems compared to recent by-elections held in the peninsula.
He also reminded all election campaigners that campaigning was to end on 11.59pm yesterday.
The parliamentary constituency has 40,131 registered voters.
Postal votes were issued earlier to 177 individuals (172 election staff and five absent voters studying/working abroad), while early voting was allowed for 270 policemen on Tuesday.
“I would like to remind the voting process will start earlier at 7.30am, not 8am, and will be until 5pm.
“Results are expected by 10pm. But it may be much earlier,” Azmi said.