PUTRAJAYA: Youths between the ages of 18 and 20 years may not get the chance to vote and contest in the Sarawak state election which must be held before June 6, 2021, said Election Commission chairman Azhar Azizan Harun.

“In my view, it is a little bit tough. I doubt so,” he said in a press conference after attending the forum ‘Make A Change, Let’s Do It Together’ organised by the EC here yesterday.

Azhar was replying to a question on whether the Sarawak general election would be the first general election to see the participation of 18-year-old citizens.

Last Tuesday (July 16), the Dewan Rakyat passed the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2019 to lower the voting age, automatic registration of voters and to lower the age of candidates contesting in general elections to 18 years.

Azhar said some time was needed before the amendments could be fully enforced.

“The electoral roll is also not easy. If we prepare today, we have to display first, after that there is a period of protest and we have to hear them. Then gazette it. So it is not like we do the electoral today, and can use it,” he said.

Replying to a question on whether the 15th general election would involve higher costs, he said, “Substantially higher costs”.

He said the cost of GE15 will also include EC upgrading and the increase in the number of new voters.

Azhar added that GE14 which involved 14.9 million voters and 240,000 staff cost about RM500 million. – Bernama