We are mere weeks away from the 15th General Election (GE15) and while the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) has given students 5 days’ leave to go back to their hometowns and vote, it seems many will not be doing so because it’s something they simply can’t afford. In fact, according to former Election Commission (SPR) Deputy Chairman Datuk Seri Wan Ahmad Wan Omar, approximately 1.4 million higher education students are unable to return home to vote due to financial constraints.
As reported by Malay Mail, Wan Ahmad thus recommended that SPR expand postal voting to include these students in the future similar to how it has been done for overseas students. However, it is too soon for this to be implemented in GE15, thus the former SPR Deputy Chairman urged for it to be implemented in the next GE.
“Students who are unable to return to vote (should be) eligible to apply for the postal vote. The process and procedure of sending them the postal ballot are the same as what has been used for overseas students. For this to happen, the fine details should be studied as the EC has the methods and expertise to implement it. The principles remain the same: the postal ballot must be sent to the relevant managing officer by 5pm on the polling day,”
GE15 will be the first GE after the implementation of Undi18 or the lowering of the voting age to 18 years old as well as automatic voter registration. Hence, there will be many first-time voters in this election that are still studying in tertiary education institutes.
Given that many students can’t afford to return home to vote, there have been many initiatives by associations and NGOs to help with the matter. Previously, we shared how a Sarawak church launched a campaign to buy flight tickets for students to go home and vote.
So, what do you guys think of the whole situation? Do you know of any other initiatives that are helping students to go back to their hometowns to vote? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.