KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 5 — The Election Commission (EC) has opened up mail-in voting for Ministry of Health (MOH) staff in the Batu Sapi by-election in Sabah scheduled on December 5.
MOH secretary-general Chen Chaw Min said the EC has gazetted the application period for Batu Sapi postal voting from October 13 to November 12.
“Applicants for this category are subject to voter eligibility requirements that have been set by the EC as follows: registered voter and on duty during polling day (December 5, 2020),” Chen said in an October 26 letter to division directors or secretaries, state health directors, and institution directors, as sighted by CodeBlue.
Mail-in voting within the country is only open to eight other categories of civil servants, besides MOH staff: Prisons Department staff, Immigration Department staff, police volunteer reserve, civil defence force, National Registration Department staff, Fire and Rescue Department staff, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency staff, and National Disaster Management Agency staff.
The postal voting application form, Borang 1C, can be downloaded from the EC website.
Sabah is the current Covid-19 epicentre in Malaysia during the third wave of the epidemic here. Veteran physician Dr Milton Lum wrote that since September 1, the Covid-19 case incidence rate per 100,000 population increased by 3.37 times for Malaysia, with an increase of 34.33 times for Sabah, more than 10 times the national figure.
After the two-week Sabah state election campaign — which saw politicians and campaigners from the peninsula flooding the country’s poorest state — ended on September 26, total cumulative reported coronavirus cases in the state multiplied by 7.5 times from a total of 1,995 cases as of October 1 to 15,048 cases as of October 31. Nationwide cumulative cases almost tripled from 11,484 to 31,548 infections in the same period.
Civil society has urged the EC to expand postal voting to all voters or to allow outstation voters to cast their ballots from their place of residence. Major political parties and coalitions, including Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional, have also declared they would not contest Batu Sapi, calling for Warisan to win the federal constituency uncontested after the death of its representative, Liew Vui Keong.
Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg reportedly said on October 23 that the state ruling coalition, Gabungan Parti Sarawak, was still considering when to hold a state election, as the state legislative assembly will automatically dissolve next June. He claimed that Sarawak was not like the case of neighbouring Sabah that experienced soaring Covid-19 infections after its state election.
The United States has seen a surge of early voting via mail-in or in-person votes in its 2020 presidential election, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, as more than 100 million Americans voted nationwide before polls opened on Election Day on November 3. They represented over 47 per cent of registered voters across the country, while the 100.2 million ballots cast before polling day represented 73 per cent of the over 136.5 million ballots cast in the 2016 presidential election, CNN reported.