KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 25 — The 15th general election could cost taxpayers up to RM1.1 billion in what could be the most expensive national polls to date.
The addition of some five million new voters into the electoral roll will be the main driver of the surge in costs which is double the spending for the previous polls and when turnout was at a record high, the Sunday Star reported the Elections Commission as saying.
“The estimated cost is about RM1.1 billion. This is more than double the estimated RM500 million spent for the 14th General Election in 2018, and almost triple the RM400 million spent for the 13th General Election,” said EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Ghani Salleh.
The Dewan Rakyat unanimously passed amendments to Article 119(1) of the Federal Constitution reducing the minimum voting age in Malaysia from 21 to 18 years old in 2019 following years of pressure for increased representation of a population that has become more sizable over the last two decades.
The passage of the Bill meant anyone aged 18 above will also be automatically registered as voters. Young and first time voters would form half the electorate this time.
Up to August 16, a total of 21,160,936 registered voters were gazetted based on the July verified rolls, Abdul Ghani was quoted as saying. There were about 14.9 million registered voters in 2018.
The regulator would need to add about 100,000 workers to operate the 15th general election, which must be held by September next year at the latest.
“There will also be an increase in the number of personnel on duty, from 260,000 during the last general election to about 366,000 for the coming one,” Abdul Ghani was quoted as saying.
The number of polling centres could go up to 9,560 compared to 9,010 from the previous general election to account for the latest number of voters, the regulator said.
Polling streams would be increased to 38,990 compared to 29,054 previously.