You may have noticed recently that there have been many news reports saying that we are on the cusp of our next General Election. But the news of an impending GE is almost always accompanied with a particular sense of urgency on one topic: To register as a voter.
In fact, a while back we actually received a Whatsapp message telling us to go and register by the end of September.
And to be fair, since we didn’t know the source of this message, we didn’t take the message very seriously. That was until we saw other websites (like here and here) all saying to register soon because it is believed that the next GE would be in March 2017.
If you feel like it’s a little too soon for the next GE, you may not be alone. If it were held next year, it would be quite early. We address that in a different article, but in short, the gomen seems to be in quite a strong position now and it would make sense for them to try and capitalise on factors like:
- Their recent successes in the Sarawak State Election and by-elections.
- The opposition is still quite divided.
- Tun M’s new party hasn’t really found its feet yet.
Anyway, although we didn’t know for sure, but we wanted to be safe so…..this writer tried to register as a voter too!
Before some people start calling out this writer for registering so last minute, allow this writer to defend himself. I actually went to a post office and registered as a voter a year ago. But after all the news about it, I thought to just check if I was already registered…just to be safe.
Lo and behold, my name was not in the system! Shocked, I called the Suruhanjaya Pilihanraya Office (SPR) office to ask, and they said that my name was not in the system so I had to register again. I also had the option of going to the SPR office (nearest was in Shah Alam) with a copy of my last registration but I believed I lost it, and the post office was nearer anyway. We were not prepared for what would happen next.
OMG so many people registering to vote!!
The following is the story of our travels to various packed post offices to register:
1. KELANA JAYA
First we (we’re back to “we” because this is a CILISOS story) headed down to our local Pos Malaysia in Kelana Jaya to register (once again). The last time this writer registered, the post office was empty and it was pretty fast.
Not exactly true this time.
Yeap, according to one of the staff, in the past 2 weeks A LOT of people had been coming in to register. So much so that they actually made a whole new button for voter registration! We even took a number, but it was almost 150 numbers away….
Nevermind, we thought maybe we could wait it out since it was only like 11.30am. So we headed off to a nearby McDonald’s to work. About half an hour later we went back, and the number had moved a grand total of 10 people. It was a work day after all, and we had a meeting scheduled so we bailed.
2. Damansara Jaya
Right after our meeting we decided to go to another post office in Damansara Jaya. Even thought it was already 4pm and close to closing time, we decided to try. Surprisingly this post office wasn’t so crowded. Got hope la we thought, so we took a number. This time there was no special voter registration button, and the number was only like 20 numbers away.
Luckily we felt it was a bit fishy so we went to check with the counter. When we asked if we had pressed the right button for voter registration, they said yes, but they had run out of voter registration forms and asked us to come back the next day! And just to be sure, we asked if they too had been seeing an influx of voter registrations lately, and they said yes.
That’s why so empty la….But then we just had to know, we just had to go to one last post office.
3. 1 UTAMA
By then it was like 5pm and we were scared that it would be closed, but lo and behold, Google told us that the one in 1 Utama closed at 6pm! Cheong ahh!!
This was our number in 1 Utama.
Almost 200 numbers away???? And the post office was supposed to close half an hour after we took it! There was no way this writer were gonna make it la. So we took to a nearby Coffee Bean (cos Starbucks too mainstream) to work on this story instead.
But in reading all of this, some of you may be asking….if the elections is next year, why are people so gan cheong to register now?
We went to ask SPR why we need to register so early!
Well, it seems that it has something to do with how SPR updates its voter database. According to Klang MP, Charles Santiago, SPR updates their voter database on a quarterly basis. He also adds that it may take 3-6 months before your name is in the system, and eligible to vote.
But if it’s 3-6 months, why would the last day be the 30th of September then? Shouldn’t it still be somewhat safe to register in October or even November? There was only one place to find this answer – SPR itself. But after our initial call to SPR about this writer’s voting status, they ended becoming almost impossible to get in touch with.
Also, remember how SPR said to bring a copy of this writer’s previous registration to the SPR office? Well this writer eventually found his registration paper, so we decided why not la. Just try to go to the office and clarify this writer’s voting status and the whole story surrounding this GE. And at their office, we found a pretty interesting piece of paper on display at their counter:
Don’t worry we didn’t get it the first time either. The counter lady though, was helpful enough to explain it to us. Basically what this graph shows are the batches in which people can register as a voter. So if you register between July and September, you should be in the system by November. And if between October and December, you’d be in the system by February the following year.
But hang on, if you can be in the system by February, won’t you be in time for the elections if it were in March? Well, the counter lady said it was actually up to SPR to decide where the cut off point is. They may choose the cut off point to be in November, or even February the following year.
Intrigued, we actually asked if we could speak to someone with a higher pangkat to get further clarification and maybe an official reply. Unfortunately, no one was available at the time, and counting all our phone calls, that’s a heck of a lot of attempts to get an answer from SPR. So if anyone from SPR would want to correct us on any of this, do drop us a line at [email protected]
But since the election itself isn’t confirmed to be in March, the answer as to when is the last day to register is actually:
Aiyo, September over di. Does that mean I may not be able to register in time for the next GE?
First things first, we cannot stress enough how the news that the next GE is in March 2017 is NOT CONFIRMED!! Looking at the news sites that report it, it seems that this bit of information actually came from Bloomberg who said that some anonymous UMNO officials said it could be as soon as March 2017.
In other words, March is the EARLIEST that some people SAID it could happen. In fact, SPR themselves have said that 30th September isn’t the last day to register! But they did point out a pretty good lesson for all of us, this writer included.
“EC encourages members of the public who have not registered as a voter to take the opportunity to register immediately without waiting until the last minute or simply because of a viral message.” – SPR chairman, Datuk Seri Mohd Hashim Abdullah, as quoted by The Malay Mail Online
So if you missed the Sept 30th deadline, DON’T WORRY! Just go and register as soon as you can! Once again, the easiest place to register is probably your local post office. But if you find that they’re still pretty packed for the next couple of days, we recommend trying the SPR offices as well. The one we went to at Komplex PKNS, Shah Alam was pretty empty. 😀
P.S. If you’re wondering, this writer has registered as a voter. I actually managed to register the following morning (the crowd was actually worse as seen in our feature image but I was there early), and once again after visiting the SPR office because they were afraid it wouldn’t be recorded again.
So this writer has registered 3 times to be a voter. But hopefully only one is counted and no phantoms come and fill the space of the other 2. 😉
[Update]: We’ve actually come across this conversation with chronicles the story of one of our commentors trying to vote:
So kudos to all Malaysians who tried their best to help others, and to all the post offices that did their best to accommodate the voter horde over the past 2 weeks!