The Government Has No Plans To Make Voting Mandatory

Malaysians are free to decide whether they want to vote.

Cover image via Bernama & FMT

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The government says it does not have any plans to make it compulsory for registered voters to cast their ballots during elections

Law and institutional reform minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman told parliament that the government will continue to educate and raise awareness to encourage Malaysians to carry out their responsibility as voters during elections.

She said the decision was made based on the principle that as a democratic nation, Malaysians were free to decide whether they wanted to vote.

Image via Bernama

In 2019, the Dewan Rakyat passed an amendment to the Federal Constitution to lower the voting age from 21 to 18

Automatic voter registration system (AVR) was also implemented, and the new law came into effect in December 2021.

In a report by Malay Mail, the implementation of AVR saw the addition of 5.6 million new voters.

Image via Azhar Ramli/STR

The idea of mandatory voting was suggested following the low voter turnout during the August state elections

Despite the introduction of Undi18, voter turnout has been on a decline in recent years.

During the 15th General Election (GE15) in November 2021, voter turnout stood at 73.89%, as reported by The Star.

However, the voter turnout during the six state elections in August 2023 were comparatively lower.

Just two hours before voting closed, the turnout for each state was as follows:

Former law minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar had said there are certain challenges to implementing compulsory voting.

According to FMT, while it is possible for it to be implemented in urban areas, it would be difficult to do so in rural areas as voters may face many obstacles due to the lack of infrastructure.

Malaysians share their thoughts about voting:

Never voted before? Don't worry, we got you covered:

Mandatory voting or not, many Malaysians want to see change in the country:

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