In tandem with its move to lower the minimum voting age to 18, Bersih has called on the Election Commission (EC) to tackle the resulting larger pool of unregistered eligible voters that the new initiative would create.
“Until automatic voters registration is implemented, another challenge with the lowering of voting age to 18 is the estimated 3.5 million young eligible voters being added by GE15, and this is on top of the existing four million eligible voters who are not yet registered,” Bersih steering committee said in a statement today.
As such, Bersih suggested that the EC look into handing out voter registration forms as part of college enrolments.
“EC should also increase the number of Assistant Registration Officers (ARO) and explore ways to improve the process to cope with the larger pool of unregistered eligible voters,” it said.
The statement came following the EC’s recent announcement that the motion to lower the minimum voting age will be tabled in Parliament on July 4.
Bersih further called on all parties in the Dewan Rakyat to support the motion, which would require two-thirds majority vote as the move requires an amendment to Article 119(1) of the Federal Constitution.
It urged them “to support the motion to be put forth as doing so would be an acknowledgement by our elected representatives that the youths of this country matter in the political process of election and that their views and interests are important to nation-building.”
Bersih added that concerns over maturity and political awareness of voters under 21 could be mitigated with voter education programmes by the EC, schools, civil society and corporate bodies as well as efforts by the media.
Following the EC’s announcement, Umno secretary-general Annuar Musa has stated the party will first discuss with other opposition parties, including PAS and Alliance of Sarawak Parties (GPS) before taking a stand on whether to support the bill or not.