Feature Story

7 Postal Voters Who Are Flying Their Votes Home And Why It Matters To Them

Election day is tomorrow, and there’s so much that’s happened since the announcement of GE14. It isn’t just contained within Malaysia, but overseas as well.

Overseas Malaysian voters can fly their ballots should they have registered as a postal voter. The process may seem easy enough, since it was just a matter of filling up a form to be approved.

But there’s already been complaints about how the postal vote system is being run. From ballots being sent late (or not being sent at all), to having to pay a lot of money for express shipping, here are 7 millennials on their experience of being postal voters for GE14:

 

1. Shi Hong

Signing up to be a postal voter was very straightforward. I thought that it would be a pretty convenient way to provide Malaysians overseas to vote.

I got my ballot on the 3rd of May, and I had to rush out the ballot the moment I received it. The time given by the Election Commission to send it back was horrible because there was no way that I could get it to reach on time if I went with regular courier services.

To make sure the ballot gets back in time, I had to pay AUD 85 for express shipping because it was the only way. I had to think really hard about it, because it’s a lot of money for me since I’m still a student. I even had to convince my roommate that this was worth it.

It was our first time voting, and I really felt that it was part of my responsibility to contribute to my country, so it’s worth it.

 

2. Jiar

Registering for postal voting was swift and easy, but I received my ballot just two days before election, which is definitely not enough time to send it back from the States. The only way I could get it back is by using overnight shipping which would be very expensive. It was a week’s worth of groceries for me!

I was so frustrated and angry. I want to exercise my right, but it feels like the government doesn’t care and you know what? I think they don’t.

This whole situation was a mess, but I managed to find people that will be getting postal votes from New York back to KL.

The best part is, my dad will be going to pick up the ballots from the girl who will be flying into KL. There’s many PJ votes out of our group to be dropped off at MBPJ and my dad will be doing it for us.

I joined this Facebook group for postal votes, and there’s so many people offering to fly back with the ballots. The only good thing that’s coming out of this is just how great the Malaysian boleh spirit is. I felt so devastated and defeated last night and this morning. I finally feel hopeful again. I really hope Malaysia gets the changes she deserves

 

3. Daniel

The procedure of signing up was quick, and easy. All I had to do was fill up the form and email it. They replied the next day that I was approved to be a postal voter. That wasn’t the hassle, what came next, was.

I got the ballot on the 3rd of May, and I felt so sure that it won’t be sent back in time, unless I pay a huge sum for express shipping.

At first, I hesitated, because what was the point? I really thought that my vote wouldn’t count, and the circumstances were encouraging me to think that way.

My housemate gave me the courage to go out there and do my part, and so, I paid the money to have it shipped back, because I want to make my first vote count. I’m just really frustrated that the Election Commission didn’t even take into account the time needed to send back, and it just discourages overseas voters to not vote.

 

4. Sarah*

The entire process from registration to receiving my ballot has been problematic. I had to register twice because there was processing problems on the Malaysian embassy or the Election Commission.

My ballot is still on the way, and the way how the Election Commission chairman has responded to this matter made me so angry. He was claiming that the ballots are going to reach on time, and that it was the voters who are intentionally delaying sending back their ballots. It upsets me that someone like that is tasked in making sure of the accountability of our election.

I’m so angry that my right to vote has been taken from me. I don’t know if it’s from incompetency or maliciousness, but my only wish is that Malaysians go out on the 9th and make their votes count. You don’t realise the value of it until you have it taken from you.

 

5. Jay*

When I received my ballot, I was excited. But when I opened the envelope, the first thing I noticed was that the instructions were very unclear, and I didn’t know how or where I had to send back my vote.

I had to pay £85 for postage. It’s a lot of money, but if it gets my vote back in time, that that’s what it takes. But if a couple of weeks were given to postal voters, then it could have been a quarter of the price.

I wish there could have been more emphasis in publicising the overseas voting system more. The only way that I found out about postal voting was through my own initiative.

 

6. Sandra

I was very anxious waiting for the ballot. One of the difficult aspects for me was the time given to return the vote back. There just wasn’t enough time to send it back from Sweden using regular courier services.

I had to pay for express shipping, and it cost me about SEK 539, about RM 240 which came out of my own pocket.

Even then, I was still worried that it wouldn’t reach on time, because the timing was just so tight. I kept checking the tracking information after I sent it off. I was so scared that it wouldn’t reach in time. After tracking it for the umpteenth time, my ballot finally arrived on 7th May. Man, I was SO happy and so proud that I could do my part as a Malaysian.

That’s so important to me. We need to come together and vote because how else will our country grow?

 

7. Christa*

My ballot arrived on the 7th of May in Paris, and the next day’s a public holiday. There was absolutely no way for me to send it back in time. How’s a package supposed to arrive within 24 hours, door-to-door?

I contacted the Malaysian embassy in Paris, roughly 5 months back to ask about postal voting. Even though I tried to follow exactly what I was instructed to do, this still happened. It’s so disappointing to know that my vote might not count.

I went to the airport with the Malaysian flag, hoping I could find someone who would be able to bring the ballot paper back home for me.

Voting is so important to me because as a citizen, I care about the future of my country. Malaysia is a democratic country, and yet there are so many others that don’t even have the privilege of voting. With my vote, I can help decide the policy for the next 4 years. Even though I’m far away, Malaysia is still my home.

 

While it is heartwarming to see the Malaysian patriotic spirit in full action; what with many offering to fly back with the ballot or connecting them to right people, the postal voting system needs to be improved.

Providing a way for Malaysians overseas to exercise their constitutional right is a step in the right direction, but not if it’s done poorly and inefficiently. It shouldn’t be up to the voters to come up with creative ways on how to get their votes back in time.

Voter apathy is already bad enough, what with #UndiRosak and people not wanting to vote at all. Having to pay a big sum just to ensure your vote gets back on time is just adding another obstacle, and not everyone has that kind of money to spend. The last thing we need is to discourage the voters more.

 

* Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals.

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