‘Phantom’ voters show up on Internet electoral roll

Posted on November 26, 1999 
Filed Under CNET, Julian

By Julian Matthews

KUALA LUMPUR–An election watch group has received thousands of complaints from the public alleging irregularities regarding Malaysia’s electoral roll available on the Internet and on CD-ROMs.

Malaysian Citizens’ Election Watch (Pemantau) head coordinator Kamar Ainiah Kamaruzaman said the complainants alleged that the electoral roll even had names of dead people and peculiar names made up of digits.

With the electoral roll available online, and with email affording quick and cheap communication, it has become even easier for people to discover irregularities.

“Some names on the list were dead for more than ten years. The same identity card number has attributed to more than one person. Some people were listed in different constituencies without their knowledge, some are missing although they have registered, and there were numerous odd names, non-existent addresses, and missing birth dates,” she said.

Several of the complainants have already filed police reports.

Kamar Ainiah said her team had also discovered that 51 percent of those listed had no birthdates, making it difficult to determine their eligibility as only those aged 21 and above are entitled to vote.

She said the existence of “phantom” voters compromises the integrity of the upcoming general elections. The watch group was set up in June by a coalition of 42 non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Election Commission chairman Omar Hashim has denied the allegations in press reports, stating that over 560,000 names including those of dead people had been already been removed since 1990.

“The term ‘phantom voters’ was cooked up and harped on by certain quarters to suit their political ends,” he was quoted in a statement.

The electoral roll was already become the subject of lawsuit because about 680,000 new voters who registered in April and May this year will be not allowed to vote this time.

The commission’s excuse is that the roll can only be updated by January, so the 1998 electoral roll with 9.7 million eligible voters will apply instead.

Opposition parties have questioned why it will take more than six months to update the computerized roll, when in New Zealand, where general elections will be held on Nov 27, voters can register as late as the day before.

Published in CNET Asia, Nov 26, 1999.

Related links:
Net’s influence limited in this election, Nov 26, 1999.
Malaysian cyber election nixed, Nov 26, 1999.
Doctored photo on Net stirs election controversy, Nov 26, 1999.
Malaysian election campaigning gets tech boost, Nov 26, 1999.
Malaysian elections: On the cyber campaign trail, Dec 10, 1999.

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