Bersih has called for an immediate halt to the registration of postal voters and a review of the domestic postal voting application process to ensure such voters are genuine, in the pursuit of a clean and fair 14th general election.
In a statement today, the electoral watchdog said the 2018 Budget allows for postal voting to be replaced with advanced voting – provided that the latter is held a day before polling day, and the votes are counted onsite at the end of that day.
Bersih pointed out that it had on several occasions condemned the postal voting method, which it claims has been "hijacked" to manipulate electoral outcomes.
"Bersih has demanded the removal of postal voting as it is open to abuse and misuse, lacks clarity, lacks security measures for the storage and transportation of ballot boxes, does not give notice to candidates, and lacks enforcement to ensure that voters do not appear as both postal and advance voters.
"Expanding categories of postal voters is a gross violation of principles of the right to vote, vote security, electoral integrity and the democratic process," it said.
The statement comes following the announcement by Election Commission chairperson Mohd Hashim Abdullah that 12 categories of civil servants can vote as postal voters beginning Monday, with the condition that their employers can verify that they will be on duty on polling day.
This, Bersih noted, lacked clear guidelines – such as in giving proof that a voter is on duty and will be unable to vote in person, the verification of the identity of the "employer," as well as the parties which qualify as an employer.
More worrying, it added, is the fact that the date for domestic postal voting had been opened without determining the date of the election.
Spike in postal voters
Meanwhile, PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar said Pakatan Harapan will monitor the postal voting process to ensure nothing fraudulent takes place.
In a separate statement, she said that the approximately 150 percent jump in the number of advance and postal voters this time around, compared to the 400,000 in the 13th general election, may deprive ordinary voters of the chance to make their preferred parties the victor.
"My worry is the amassing of the postal voting system in favour of one party may cause the ruling coalition to win marginal parliamentary seats.
"This has happened before, like how they (BN) won 30 parliamentary seats in GE13 with a lower majority.
“Therefore, it is not impossible for the ruling coalition to regain the two-thirds majority in Parliament, with the help of lopsided postal votes in GE14," she said.
She urged the EC to impose more transparent and strict procedures in the postal voting process.
According to Nurul Izzah, existing laws are insufficient to protect individuals who have their "own opinions" or do not vote according to their employers' preferences – citing the case of Major Zaidi Ahmad, who was expelled from the Air Force for raising issues pertaining to the use of indelible ink.
"Although many challenges lie ahead, including the delay by the Registrar of Societies in registering Harapan as a formal coalition, the support of Malaysians towards a new political wave, strengthens by the day.
“All votes, including postal votes, will determine the country's future, as long as they are manipulated by irresponsible parties."