Malaysian government looking into electronic voting, Law Minister says

The four-month old Perikatan Nasional government might call for snap elections amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The four-month old Perikatan Nasional government might call for snap elections amid the coronavirus pandemic.PHOTO: ST FILE

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Malaysian government is engaging various stakeholders to look into the feasibility of introducing e-voting for the next general election, says Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Takiyuddin Hassan.

Datuk Takiyuddin, who is the de-facto Law Minister, said electronic voting would involve several issues pertaining to data confidentiality, security, cost and voter education.

He said the Election Commission (EC) is still not satisfied with the confidentiality and security issues involving e-voting.

"Therefore, the EC will continue to engage with the relevant quarters before any decision is put forward to the government," he said during question time in Parliament on Thursday (July 16).

The issue of e-voting has been raised amid talk that the four-month old Perikatan Nasional (PN) government might call for snap elections amid the coronavirus pandemic. The 15th general election isn't due until 2023 but might be called soon due to the thin parliamentary majority held by PN.

Mr Takiyuddin was responding to a question by Umno MP Mahdzir Khalid, who asked the Prime Minister to state how ready the EC was in facing snap polls and the prospects of introducing e-voting due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Datik Seri Mahdzir subsequently interjected and pointed out that the e-voting system is used in many countries.

In response, Mr Takiyuddin acknowledged that many countries such as Brazil, Estonia, India, Switzerland, and the United States have e-voting systems.

However, he said reports have shown that many countries decided to revert to conventional paper ballots.

"Many issues are causing their election results to be questioned and it's proven that it isn't an effective system," he argued.

Opposition MP Fahmi Fadzil also interjected, saying that some Malaysians may reside in areas where there aren't many voting centres.

 
 
 

Mr Takiyuddin said the EC had conducted a post-mortem regarding the election process in the country as well as overseas, and it was satisfied at the moment.

"Nevertheless, improvements will be made from time to time and we hope in the 15th general election, there are improvements on the issues you mentioned," he added.

Earlier, Mr Takiyuddin told the House that the EC is always ready to face the possibility of a general election, as it is important to ensure that polls are organised smoothly especially during the post-Covid-19 period.

"The EC has made preparations and thorough planning that cover aspects such as election budgeting, equipment, logistics, systems development, human resource management and training for its officers.

"The EC has also held engagements with relevant government departments and agencies to ensure a smooth election process," he said.