Analysts: Think outside the box to engage young

KUALA LUMPUR: Undi18 voters constitute a significant portion of the electoral roll and political parties must be creative in enticing this youth segment who will be casting ballots for the first time, say political analysts.

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

“Johor will become a test case on Undi18. We may see more campaigning on the Internet but it may not mean the votes are coming unless this group is persuaded to come out and vote,” he said in an interview.

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

“But it’s still early to say if their (Undi18) votes can swing (results), as much is not tested yet,” he added.

On Jan 14 this year, Malaysians aged 18 and above as at Dec 31 last year were automatically included in the electoral roll if they were not already registered as voters.

According to the Election Commission (EC), 5,718,760 Malaysian citizens aged 18 and above as at Dec 31 last year were registered as new voters.

With that, 750,000 new voters in Johor alone were added to the roll.

Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan reportedly said that there would be a 20% increase of voters in each constituency.

“This means the number of voters in the state polls will increase from 1.8 million to 2.5 million,” he was quoted as saying.

Political analyst Dr Azmi Hassan, citing figures from the EC, said that under Undi18, there would be 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 the political parties are reaching out to these new voters,” he said.

Universiti Malaya’s Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi said the election standard operating procedure must be in tune with latest developments in each state.

“Although the Covid-19 situation might transition to the endemic stage, precautionary measures must be taken,” he said.

Prof Awang Azman also said the tightened election SOP in the Melaka and Sarawak state polls late last year had shown the limitations of social media campaigns.

“Traditional door-to-door and on-the-ground grassroots engagement should continue, especially in key traditional seats where the voter base resides,” he added.

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

Prior to the dissolution of the state assembly on Saturday, the state government led by Umno had a simple majority of 28 compared to Pakatan Harapan’s 27 seats following the death of Kempas assemblyman Datuk Osman Sapian of Bersatu last month.

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