• Jonathan Shiek

Malaysia Is On Track To Lower Voting Age To 18

It’s been two years since the Malaysian Parliament unanimously passed the constitutional amendment to lower the voting age to 18 and it seems like Malaysia is finally on track to do this and create an automatic voter registration (AVR).

According to Election Commission deputy chairman Dr Azmi Sharom, the Election Commission (EC) is on track in ensuring the system for AVR and lowering the voting age to 18 will be ready by July 2021.

“The Secretariat has been working hard to achieve this, despite challenges posed by Covid-19 and movement control orders. The systems are currently being put in place. With regard to the changes in legislation, I do not have that information at the moment,” said Dr Azmi.

In 2019, the EC predicted that the AVR will bring in 7.8 million new voters by 2023, which is a 50% increase from the current number of registered voters we have in the country. In fact, the AVR alone will be able to bring in 4.5 million voters aged 21 and above who have yet to register.

Here’s how you can register as a voter right now. Credits: SoyaCincau

However, even though the Amendment Act was signed by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al- Mustafa Billah Shah on 4 September, 2019 and gazetted on 10 September, 2019, the AVR and lowering of voting age to 18 have yet to be completely put into the federal legislation.

As of today, only Perlis, Perak, Kelantan, Terengganu, Sabah, and Sarawak have amended their state constitutions to allow those at least 18 years old to stand in elections, while six other states have yet to do so.

Constitution expert Professor Emeritus Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi said for 18-year-olds to vote in the next general election (GE) and the AVR, consequential changes must be made to the Election Offences Act 1954, Elections (Conduct of Elections) Regulations 1981 and Elections (Registration of Electors) Regulations 2002.

But due to the state of Emergency we are in, Parliament is not in session, hence it cannot enact the necessary amendments to the Election Offences Act 1954. Likewise, state assemblies are not in session and cannot enact the necessary amendments to their Constitutions.

If the next GE is held before all the amendments are made and the preparations are done, the EC would be in a real dilemma as this may result in millions of 18-year-olds losing their rights to vote, said Datuk Dr Shad Saleem.


#avr #generalelection #votingage

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