Don: Malaysia should consider implementing hybrid voting system

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Associate Professor Dr Muzaffar Syah Mallow

KUCHING (Sept 10): Malaysia should consider implementing hybrid voting system if it is not ready for an electronic voting system, said Dr Muzaffar Syah Mallow.

The Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia’s Faculty of Syariah and Laws associate professor explained that hybrid voting system is a voting process that combines the best of both online and offline voting.

“In a hybrid voting process, voters can choose to cast their ballots either in person or online.

“This gives everyone the option to vote in the way that works best for them. One of the advantages of hybrid voting system is that it increases voter turnout as people are more likely to do it when given the option to vote online,” he said in a statement today.

The statement was issued in light of observation that voters had to brave cloudy and rainy weather to cast their votes during the recent Pulai parliamentary and Simpang Jeram state by-elections.

It was observed that old and sick voters had to spend the time and energy to go to the polling stations, while the voters’ turnout was also low.

Muzaffar said another advantage of hybrid voting system is that it can save a lot of money.

“They no longer need to print and mail out a large number of ballots, as a good many of them take up the option to vote online. This can be significantly cost-saving.

“Hybrid voting system is more environment-friendly because we don’t have to print as many ballots for a hybrid election than for a completely offline election.

“Our Election Commission (EC) should look into this proposal closely. We need to examine the country’s existing election laws and the Federal Constitution before putting this proposal into reality,” he said.

The academician pointed out that high-tech applications can be designed and utilised to make people’s life easier and more convenient in the age of technology.

He said Malaysia should make use of all the existing high-tech applications to allow voters to vote through online instead of face-to-face voting inside the polling station.

He regretted that an 83-year-old woman died while casting her vote at SK Rokan in Negeri Sembilan during the recent six state elections held in Peninsular Malaysia.

“Many voters also have to travel long distance and endure heavy traffic in order to go back to their hometown to cast their votes. The traditional way of voting process seems very time-consuming, requires huge energy and involves a lot of money.

“The general election last year coincided with the monsoon season and some voters had to endure the flood water in order to cast their precious votes. This should not have happened.

“As such, the time has come for our country to fully utilise all the available technologies and implement online voting or electronic voting (e-Voting) system,” he said.

Muzaffar asserted that e-Voting system can improve accessibility since persons with disabilities will be able to vote more conveniently.

He said e-Voting system would also allow those facing heavy rain or flash flood to cast their votes remotely and safely.

“E-Voting system can also prevent fraud as it reduces the chances of accidental or intentional variations in vote counts by reducing poll workers’ direct interaction with ballots or counts,” he added.

According to him, e-Voting system includes punched cards, optional scan voting systems, and specialised voting kiosks including self-contained, direct-recording electronic voting systems.

“It can also involve transmission of ballots and votes via telephones, private computer networks or the Internet; e-Voting system may be done through standalone electronic voting machines or computers connected to the Internet,” he said.

He said there are two main types of e-Voting system, one of which is physically supervised by representatives of governmental or independent electoral authorities like electronic voting machines located at polling stations.

He added that the other type is remote e-Voting system via the Internet whereby the voter submits his or her vote electronically to the election authorities, from any location.