By Ben Tan | Malay Mail

Election Commission (EC) officers make final preparations for the voting process in conjunction with the Johor State Election (PRN) at Sekolah Kebangsaan Tanjung Puteri, Johor Baru, March 11, 2022. — HARI ANGGARA

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) has assisted a Johor-based voter in filing a suit against the Election Commission (EC) and the government for preventing him from voting in the Johor state elections held in March.

The statement by the Bersih steering committee today said the first-time voter from the Skudai state constituency had alleged that he was stopped from voting by EC workers on March 12.

The electoral reform group added this was despite the voter’s COVID-19 test results showing negative after he took the necessary measures such as conducting a self-test before going to the polling station.

It said the suit against the EC and government, which was filed yesterday, was based on five relevant grounds: 1) EC’s decision and action are irrational and illegal; 2) The voter has the right to vote as provided in Article 119 of the Federal Constitution, Election Act 1958 and Elections (Conduct of Elections) 1981; 3) Election Laws do not provide any power to the EC to deny voter’s right to vote on the grounds of infectious disease and still in quarantine period; 4) Election Laws do not provide any requirement to obtain any prior permission from District Health Officer before they can vote; and 5) The EC had wrongfully delegated its power to the district health officer in the matter to vote.

According to Beatrice Chin from AmerBON, the firm representing the voter in the suit, although during the election there were regulations from the Ministry of Health (MoH) on Covid-19, the final say on the conduct of election was still with the EC to ensure a voter’s right is not affected.

“Bersih once again emphasises that EC, as the sole election management body in Malaysia, must ensure that the election can be participated by all Malaysians who are registered as voters.

“There are various methods that can be used by the EC to ensure the voting process if the commission and the Malaysian government are willing to go down to the ground and have dialogue with various stakeholders to get more proactive measures in conducting elections, especially during the COVID-19 situation,” she said in the accompanying statement.

Prior to the Johor state elections in March, Bersih had called on the EC and the MoH to provide special facilities for those under quarantine to vote instead of restricting them from casting their ballots.