Imagine you are voter in Area A and you know the polling station you go is a school in Area A. Then a by election came, you came to that school and you found that you not allowed to cast your votes in that Area A. You didn’t change your address but you disallowed your right to vote.Why is it happening?
During last year’s by elections, quite number of voters in Kuala Kangsar (Perak) found that couldn’t cast their vote. I am not sure of the calculated implication of this event on big BN victory for that seat. Referring to an old article by Bersih’s Chief statement, more than 118 000 voters have been shifted of their voting districts through a process called Locality Correction Exercise.
In Malaysia, we need a quick understanding how an electoral constituency is formed. First, we have a locality which can cover a suburb or a small region. Multiple localities make up a voting district which can define the location of polling booths. Multiple voting districts make up a state consitutency and finally a parliamentary constituency.
What is this Locality Correction Exercise is about? According to Election Commission Malaysia (SPR), this is to correct historical errors of assigning the wrong voting districts for voters. Few years ago, the former Menteri Besar of Selangor was shifted of his voting district because of this exercise. EC claims there is no boundary corrections or voter shift.
However, if voters are shifted of their constituency (which occurred across the country), then the exercise is tantamount to a redelineation which requires Parliamentary approval and plus consultation of communities.
We need to ask why the big fuss on the implication of voter shift. Would it impact the next elections? We will examine two cases. One is PAS Marginal Seat in Perak and BN Marginal Seat in Sabah.
Selinsing is north western state consitutency of Perak. In 2013, PAS won the seat with thin margin of 809 voters. It is a marginal (formerly) Pakatan Rakyat seat. Refer to the map on the left, PAS won strongly on voting districts on edges of this rural consitutency. But the map shows BN has strong presence in many voting districts. This seat is vulnerable for a big swing in next elections.
Putting aside a potential PAS – BN election pact, we will examine the impact on voter shift. This seat experienced Locality Correction Exercise which resulted many voters got shifted within the seat and to certain degree, to other seats. For this study, we focus on voter shift between constituencies.
Look at the right map, the map focus of supposed immigration and emigration of voters with neighbouring consitutency. For this Locality Correction Exercise, up to 2899 voters were emigrated from Selinsing and while 814 immigrated into the seat. In short, Selinsing has shrunk in its population. What’s the big fuss here?
Focus on voting district level, there is a strong correlation of voter emigration wherever PAS voting base is strong. For example, Jalan Siakap is an affected voting district. Here things get interesting, Sungai Gedong received 392 voters from neighbouring districts. Gunung Semanggol is pro PR district and Kg Tua is pro BN district.
Assuming the voter preference is not changed by GE14, we have a situation PAS lost 800 potential votes while to cope with addition of 400 votes from largely BN territory. Even before a change of boundaries, could this exercise switch the election results? Do the Maths!
Tawau is a Sabah BN Marginal Seat while Kalabakan is safe Sabah BN seat (They are next to each other). The biggest voter shift among parliamentary constituencies in Malaysia occurred between Tawau and Kalabakan.
Thanks to the Locality Correction Exercise, up to 2550 voters got shifted into Tawau. As we don’t have the current voting districts in Sabah (as new ones), I can only provide the analysis based on 2013 boundaries.
Similar to Selinsing, we have Kuhara voting district which is pro PR district getting new influx of voters. Most of them come from a pro PR district in Kalabakan. Assuming voter pattern didn’t change, it will be difficult to ascertain whether such exercise will strengthen PR presence or BN presence (individual voter preference is secret). Apas, a pro BN district will see reduction of voters but with no certainty in changing electoral outcome.
But we do know there is an influx of voters from pro BN districts in Kalabakan to new voting districts in Tawau. I am referring to seats of Padang Terbang and Banyan where the voter emigration to Tawau seems to unusually high.
In the case of Tawau, we don’t know whether this voter shift either:
- Preserve status quo of BN marginal seat
- Make into a PR marginal seat
- Converting BN marginal seat to safe BN seat.
In two instances, we can see the far reaching implications of locality correction Exercise. Please check your SPR details especially if you are in a BN or PR marginal seat. If any errors, please contact SPR.
Your future in Malaysia rests in your hands!