Critics say that the voting age can be lowered without needing automatic registration of voters.
Youth and Sports Minister Reezal Merican Naina Merican has called on the Election Commission not to postpone the lowering of the voting age and the age of election candidates to 18.
This is after the EC decided to delay the lowering of the voting age to 18 together with automatic voter registration to next year instead of this July as planned.
Critics have argued there was no reason why the existing voter registration system can’t be extended to 18-year-olds now even if automatic registration is delayed.
“Eligibility for 18-year-olds to vote and become a candidate can be considered by the EC to be implemented earlier.
“This gives youths space for democratic participation and they can immediately register as voters before automatic registration is enforced,” Reezal said in a Facebook post today.
He added this would allow youths to take part in an important part of the democratic process..
Under the new EC timeline, youths aged 18 to 20 will most likely miss out on the 15th general election which is widely expected to be held once the state of emergency ends in August.
The EC has estimated that there are currently around 1.2 million youths aged 18 to 20.
Reezal, who was one of the MPs who supported the age-lowering amendments in the Dewan Rakyat, said he was disappointed by the EC’s decision.
Fellow Umno minister Khairy Jamaluddin tweeted that he and Reezal will raise the matter in the cabinet to press the EC into implementing Undi18 immediately.
In a related statement, Khairy said the EC citing the movement control orders (MCO) for the delay in lowering the voting age was unreasonable.
“This is unreasonable as the MCO has already been in force since last year.
“In fact, the de facto law minister (Takiyuddin Hassan) last November had maintained the July 2021 target for the implementation of Undi18 and automatic registration.
“Not five months after that answer in the Dewan Rakyat, the EC arbitrarily announces a delay of more than one year,” he noted.