‘Put e-voting proposal on hold’

KUALA LUMPUR: As talk of a snap election looms, several lawmakers say that the proposed e-voting mechanism should be put on hold by the government.

Umno Kinabatangan MP Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin said although the e-voting method is good, it is a long a way from being implemented in Malaysia.

This is because the government needs to look at infrastructure in terms of connectivity.

“It (e-voting) is good as it will give everyone an opportunity to vote without queuing up during the elections but the infrastructure must be in place.

“Around 60% of Malaysia is rural and the rest urban areas.

“And sometimes, we even tend to lose signal (while talking on the phone) in urban areas, ” he said.

He added that e-voting would also require laws and regulations to be in place, hence it will take a longer time to be implemented.

“I think it can be done, but not now, maybe in 10 or 15 years. I think it will be a good move for the younger generation especially.”

Yesterday, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan said the government was currently engaging various stakeholders to deliberate the feasibility of introducing e-voting in GE15.

According to Takiyuddin, the implementation of e-voting involved several issues pertaining to secrecy, security, cost and voter education.

However, Takiyuddin said the Election Commission (EC) was dissatisfied with secrecy and security issues in e-voting.

“Therefore, the EC will continue to engage with relevant quarters before any decision is put forward to the government, ” said Takiyuddin during Question Time in Parliament.

Takiyuddin was responding to Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid (BN-Padang Terap), who asked the Prime Minister to state how ready the EC was in facing snap polls and the prospect of introducing e-voting following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mahdzir said that the e-voting system was used in many countries.

In response, Takiyuddin said that countries such as Estonia, Brazil, India, Switzerland and the US are implementing the e-voting system.

However, Takiyuddin said reports have shown that many countries decided to revert to the conventional paper voting method.

“Many issues are giving rise to their election results being called into question and it’s proven that it isn’t an effective system.”

Fahmi Fadzil (PH-Lembah Pantai) interjected, saying that some Malaysians may reside in areas where there aren’t many voting centres.

Takiyuddin said the EC had conducted a post-mortem regarding the election process in the country as well as overseas and it was satisfied at the moment.

“Nevertheless, improvements will be made from time to time and we hope in the 15th general elections, there will be improvements on the issues you mentioned.”

PKR Subang MP Wong Chen said e-voting was similar to normal voting, where the only difference was the use of a machine rather than paper when casting ballots.

“The system can have problems but if the machine is kept offline, we can reduce the risk of the machine and the voting results being hacked, ” he said.

However, Wong said the government must not use the e-voting mechanism for GE15 without prior live test runs.

“The EC must prove that it can work in by-elections and state elections before using it in a general election, ” he added.

DAP Kota Kinabalu lawmaker Chan Foong Hin said focus should be more on automatic registration of voters who turn 18.

“E-voting is just a matter of technology application but there is no urgency to take voting online.

“It is very important to ensure the “Undi 18” agenda is successful.”

In Parliament, Takiyuddin told the House that the EC is always ready to face the possibility of a 15th General Election, as it is important to ensure that polls be organised smoothly especially during the post Covid-19 period.

“The EC has made preparations and thorough planning that covers aspects such as election budgeting, equipment, logistics, systems development, human resource management and training of its officers.

“The EC has also held discussions with relevant government departments and agencies to ensure a smooth election process.”

As for preparation for GE15, Takiyuddin said the EC will have additional voting centres to facilitate voting in districts with a high number of voters.

He also said the EC was updating names on the electoral roll, where voters who are either dead or no longer Malaysian citizens, would be excluded from the list of eligible voters.

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