Johor polls: Parties must think out of the box to woo Undi18 voters, say analysts

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 23 Jan 2022

KUALA LUMPUR: The upcoming Johor state elections will be a testing ground on how the new order of Undi18 voters cast their ballots and political parties must “think out of the box” to entice local youths, say analysts.

Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) political analyst Dr Sivamurugan Pandian said political parties may rely heavily on social media to reach out to youth voters, but he warned that support may not translate to votes if youths weren't convinced to cast their ballots.

"Johor will become a test on Undi18. We might see heavier campaigning on the Net, but it may not mean votes unless this group is persuaded to come out and vote," said Sivamurugan.

Sivamurugan also said the selection of candidates in the upcoming Johor polls might be made based on youth voting patterns.

"But, it's still early to say if their (Undi18) votes can swing, as much as it is not tested yet," added Sivamurugan.

On Jan 14 this year, Malaysians aged 18 years and above as of Dec 31, 2021, will be automatically included in the electoral roll if they were not registered as voters.

According to a report, figures by the EC showed that 5,718,760 Malaysian citizens aged 18 and above from Dec 31 last year onwards were registered as new voters.

Political analyst Dr Azmi Hassan cited figures from the Election Commission (EC), saying that the additional new voters under Undi18 meant an additional 10,000 to 20,000 new voters in each constituency.

"The EC has said that there will be nearly six million new voters. So this is very significant. It really depends on how they (political parties) are reaching out to these new voters," added Azmi.

Azmi said the EC can implement the same Covid-19 SOPs in Melaka and Sarawak, but more leeway should be given so candidates can reach out to voters.

"Human interaction between candidates and voters should be allowed in certain constituencies, just like Sarawak."

In Melaka, all forms of ceramah were banned throughout the campaigning period while the EC allowed ceramah in certain constituencies in Sarawak that have poor internet connectivity.

Meanwhile, Universiti Malaya's Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi said the election SOPs by the EC must be in tune with latest developments in each state.

"Although the Covid-19 situation is moving towards the endemic stage, precautionary measures must be taken," added Awang.

Awang said social media campaigns were also limited due to tightened election SOPs by the EC as shown in the previous Melaka and Sarawak state elections.

"The traditional door-to-door and on-the-ground grassroots engagement should be continued, especially in key traditional seats where the voter base resides," added Awang.

On Jan 6, the Johor state assembly amended its constitution to lower the minimum voting age from 21 to 18-years-old.

Prior to the dissolution of the state assembly on Saturday (Jan 22) evening, the state government led by Umno had a simple majority of 28 compared to Pakatan's 27 following the death of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia's Kempas assemblyman Datuk Osman Sapian last month.

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