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Mar 5, 2008

26 'phantom' voters in family's home

Candidate finds 26 'phantom' voters in family's home

In yet another challenge to the integrity of the electoral roll, a candidate has discovered 26 unknown individuals registered as voters at her family’s home.

jenice lee dap terataiAccording to Jenice Lee, DAP candidate for the Teratai state seat in Selangor, eight letters regarding polling details were sent to her parents’ residence.

Since the names of the recipients were unknown to her or her relatives, Lee checked the house’s address in the electoral roll database.

The first-time candidate was shocked by what she found.

Lee discovered 26 individuals, none of whom are members of her family, registered as voters for the Pandan parliamentary constituency. Teratai, in which Lee is a candidate, is one of two state seats under Pandan.

Lee’s parents have owned the house, which is located in the Cempaka constituency - the other state seat in Pandan - for 10 years.

But they are not registered to vote at that address as they lived elsewhere for about five years before moving back to the house a few years ago.

At a press conference today, the 27-year-old candidate raised this “most unusual” situation and urged the PAS nominee contesting in the area, Iskandar Abdul Samad, to lodge a report with the Election Commission.

“(Such discrepancies) are obstacles to the democratic process,” she said, emphasising that this is not the first time irregularities in the electoral roll have been exposed.

Since the start of the election season this year, opposition leaders and poll watchdogs have called upon the government’s election oversight body to ‘clean up’ the election rolls.

There have been recent reports of almost 9,000 voters over the age of 100 in the rolls as well as residences with dozens of registered voters. In Georgetown, Penang, for example, a deserted army base was found to have 500 voters registered to it.

EC not responsible

Although activist groups like Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) and Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections (Mafrel) argue that election roll issues like these compromise the voting process, the EC has dismissed the complaints.

In responding to the existence of voters with birth dates from a century or more ago, EC chief Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman argued that his commission was not responsible for the existence of dead voters in the electoral rolls.

According to him, the EC relied on data from the National Registration Department (NRD) when cleaning out dead voters.

Reacting to Lee’s concerns on the existence of 26 unknown voters at her house, EC secretary Kamaruzaman Mohd Noor did not considered it as a pressing “issue”.

“The legal issue is that your name must appear in the electoral roll (to vote) for a parliamentary seat or state seat,” he told Malaysiakini.

Kamaruzaman said that the EC employed a comprehensive process in expunging names from the electoral rolls.

Given that the election is on Saturday, he suggested that as long as people are registered to vote, it shouldn’t matter what address they are registered at.


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