KUALA LUMPUR (April 29): The government is committed to ensuring that voters aged at least 18 can vote in the next general election, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Parliament) Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan.
In a statement today, he said a Cabinet meeting on April 28 had affirmed the lowering of the minimum voting age to 18 and that it will work on implementing the new threshold as soon as possible.
“Following the decision, the Election Commission (EC) will take immediate steps to resolve a few matters concerning certain legal provisions as well as some technical issues, including updating the necessary software systems,” he added.
“It is clear through this resolution that the government is committed to giving a chance to young voters aged at least 18 years old to vote in the 15th general election (GE15) as well as any by-elections and state elections," he said, adding that the government is confident that the EC has sufficient manpower and is logistically prepared to hold elections adapted to the new norms to address the Covid-19 pandemic.
In July 2019, a motion to amend the Federal Constitution to allow 18-year-olds to vote and contest in elections, as well as enable automatic voter registration, was unanimously passed by the Dewan Rakyat.
At present, the minimum eligible age to vote and contest in elections is 21.
While tabling the motion, then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the lowering of the voting age and implementation of automatic voter registration could add as many as 7.8 million new voters to the electoral roll by 2023. This will bring total voters to 22.7 million.
GE15 is due in 2023, although speculation is rife that snap polls could be called this year, owing to tensions between the ruling Perikatan Nasional coalition and its partner Barisan Nasional.
Earlier this month, Dewan Negara President Tan Sri Dr Rais Yatim said the Elections Act 1958 (Act 19) should be amended first so that the proposed changes can be implemented.
“Even though the constitution has been amended under Article 48, for example, it still cannot be carried out because the avenue is not provided. So, even though the constitution has been amended, there is no infrastructure through election laws,” he was quoted by Bernama as saying.
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