The upcoming Johor polls are set to be the first election to have 18-year-olds as voters, following the successful implementation of UNDI18. The latest electoral roll which was gazetted on January 14 includes voters who turned 18 as of December 31st last year. Newly-eligible voters will also be automatically registered.
The Johor state assembly was dissolved on January 22, paving the way for a state election to be held within 60 days. The implementation of UNDI18 in Johor marks the addition of almost 750,000 new voters, including 175,000 voters under 21 years old. This is an increase of almost 30 per cent to the existing number of voters in Johor which brings the total number of voters in Johor to 2.5 million compared to 1.8 million voters in the 14th General Election (GE-14) in 2018.
Malaysia's growing electorate has elicited reactions from both ends of the spectrum. Some are concerned that the youths are not ready to make decisions that will bear such significant consequences to the state, while others are more confident that age will not influence voting decisions.
The government wants to give young people in Malaysia more power, hence the implementation of UNDI18, Prime Minister Dato' Sri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said that UNDI18 is proof of the government’s confidence in the youths and also it is an initiative to encourage the younger generation to participate in the country’s development process. The government is always open to hearing the views of the youths as they are the future leaders of tomorrow.
Factors that the rakyat should take into consideration in UNDI18
According to Universiti Putra Malaysia senior lecturer, Dr Syed Agil Syed Alsagoff, the rakyat especially the youngsters who have been given the opportunity to vote for this election should have the background on the political system and also the democratic system in the country. A new generation of voters who have been exposed to online media will approach politics with a more urbanised attitude that will see through and condemn outdated approaches to social issues.
Youth have the rights, the skills and the numbers to “make a difference” in the government and society. Decision-makers would be wise to meaningfully engage with young people and acknowledge the importance of their voices, energy and vision to a healthy democracy.
How do you feel about voting for the first time?
“It is the first election that I have been eligible to vote for. For someone who has been reading and following political stories, I am excited to be able to vote, said Maegan Augustin Yeoh Yen, a student from University Putra Malaysia.
What changes would UNDI18 bring?
She further explained that UNDI18 would bring youth empowerment to life. Today most youths are enabled to independently think and act on issues about their life, their surroundings and their futures. UNDI18 is not just about democracy from the perspective of voting and elections. It is a democratic achievement in the true spirit of youth empowerment.
Is it important to expose young people to topics about politics?
Exposing young people to topics about politics is important as it would give them the awareness of what is going on in the country and appreciation on the local issues. Hence, education reform is necessary. Giving our younger generation the ability to vote is the first step and a great one at that. Yet, if our youth does not realise or appreciate the value that comes with this ability, then it is an opportunity that will be wasted.
“The passing of the UNDI18 bill by our elected representatives is an indication of growth as a democratic nation and the readiness of Malaysia to embrace fully the concept and belief that every member of society should have a voice in choosing who their representative should be,” said Jaayne Jeevita, a student from Multimedia University.
With the automatic voter registration, eligible voters no longer need to register as voters instead they only need to check the status of their registration and their polling location through https://mysprsemak.spr.gov.my/.
This content is provided by 99 Media.