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VoteMalaysia crowdfunds to bring home postal votes

Malaysian youth groups and student alliances across the globe are racing against the clock to help facilitate postal voting for the 15th general election.

Applications by overseas postal voters, which have been open since Oct 10, will be closed in two days - on Oct 23.

The VoteMalaysia coalition in partnership with Undi18 aims to bring back 50,000 postal ballots from various countries.

Malaysian Students Global Alliance head Jonathan Lee said that the groups felt the need to take action after witnessing the failings of the postal voting system in the 2018 general election as well as the Johor state election held earlier this year.

“We noted major shortcomings in the postal voting process, particularly in GE14 and the Johor state election, and therefore we want to facilitate postal voting on a global scale for GE15 to ensure as many Malaysians overseas as possible can take part in this democratic process of voting.

“One problem that happens each time during postal voting is the lack of awareness of the dates and procedures. As such, we have been aggressively pushing out infographics on different platforms, such as Instagram, Facebook, and Telegram, to inform Malaysians about the steps they can take to apply as a postal voter.

“Another notable challenge is postal ballots often arrive late to the doorsteps of postal voters, leaving them with little time to fill up the ballot and return it back. As such, VoteMalaysia is working hand in hand with student representative organisations in different countries across the world to craft a logistical response to bring back the postal ballots within their country,”  he told Malaysiakini.

During GE14, Malaysians who lived abroad faced difficulty receiving and returning ballots in time due to the 11-day campaign period.

This was also an issue during the recent Johor state election, where some voters received their ballots only after polling day and others did not receive their ballots at all.

Other voters faced technical issues on the Election Commission (EC) website when applying for postal voting or receiving smeared ballot papers.

VoteMalaysia seeks to raise RM500,000, which will be channelled towards bringing the postal ballots back, covering flight tickets, domestic delivery and postal vote coordination. Lee said that approximately RM12,000 had been raised as of yesterday.

‘Clear and transparent’

He said that the figure of 50,000 ballots was made after considering postal voter participation in the countries involved, based on previous general elections or state elections.

“The most important thing VoteMalaysia has to do, on our side, is to be clear and transparent in handling our funds.

“This (initiative) will largely be between the coalition and the student representative organisations in each country. The amount requested by each organisation will be considered carefully and funds will be handed to them directly. All transactions will be audited,” Lee added.

Countries currently involved in this programme are Australia, the United Kingdom, United States, Turkiye, Japan, Germany, Egypt, Singapore, Qatar, Indonesia, and China.

The Election Commission announced earlier yesterday that voting for GE15 will take place on Nov 19, which is a Saturday.

Donations to VoteMalaysia’s initiative can be made here.

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