PETALING JAYA: Additional public holiday and toll-free travel should be given to encourage more voters to return home to cast their ballots during the six state elections, say political parties.
Both Pakatan Harapan and Perikatan Nasional members have urged the government to hype up the state elections through various media platforms to create a healthy turnout on Aug 12.
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Neither side wants to see a repeat of the low turnout that plagued the Melaka and Johor elections in 2021 and 2022 respectively.
The state elections in Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Penang, Kedah, Terengganu and Kelantan will be held on Aug 12, with early polling on Aug 8. Nomination day is on July 29.
“The dates are good but we hope the government can consider declaring a public holiday around the polling date to give out-of-state voters a chance to return home,” said PAS information chief Khairil Nizam Khirudin.
The Jerantut MP said this was done by former prime minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob before the 15th General Election on Nov 19 last year. Nov 18 and 19 were declared public holidays.
He also announced toll-free travel for Class One vehicles.
“The government should follow in the footsteps of the Ismail Sabri administration,” Khairil Nizam said.
The state polls could see more than 9.77 million people casting their votes, with more than one-third in Selangor at 3.7 million.
Kedah has 1.5 million voters and Kelantan 1.4 million. Many in these two states work elsewhere.
Bersatu information chief Senator Datuk Razali Idris said the Aug 12 polling date was good as Malaysia’s haj pilgrims would have returned by then.
“This will boost the turnout rate. The government should further hype up the importance for voters, particularly outstation ones, to do their duty,” he said.
PAS and Bersatu are part of the Perikatan coalition.
Pakatan Harapan’s Kedah chairman Datuk Mahfuz Omar said the Election Commission (EC) and foreign missions must work together to bring back overseas postal ballots.
“This is because there have been numerous cases of ballots reaching overseas voters either too close to, on and even after polling day,” said the former Pokok Sena MP.
“Those in the country can make plans to return to vote, but it’s the overseas votes that are a challenge.”
According to the EC, there are 1,727 eligible voters based overseas. The last day for postal vote application is July 8.
Penang PKR leader Datuk Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik said it would be a challenge to motivate voters to come out, given that the atmosphere is different from the general election.
“We have to push voters as much as possible to realise that they have an important duty even though these are only state elections,” said the Balik Pulau MP.