KUCHING: The approach to voting in rural areas must be changed to ensure the safety of dwellers during the upcoming state election amid Covid-19.
Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing suggested that the ballot boxes be brought to the people instead of them gathering at the polling centre.
“The Election Commission must increase the number of its workers and more ballot boxes to be used in rural constituencies. Ballot boxes going to the people and not people going to the ballot boxes approach should be adopted.
“They should extend the polling time as this will allow for social distancing when voters cast their votes,” he said in a statement yesterday (June 17).
Masing also said the period between nomination day and polling day should be reduced to within the limit of the election laws.
“For the state election to be held with the health and safety of our people in mind, strict health guidelines must be put in place and enforced by the Health Ministry.
“The enforcement agencies, both the Election Commission and the Police must be strict in ensuring that face to face campaigning is prohibited. Anybody who breaks the laws must be penalised immediately.
He said with the state election expected to be held as early as October this year, low voter turnout is expected.
“EC must expect this. But in the end we have the government which has the mandate of our people.
“Thus we maintain the rule of law by maintaining the practice of parliamentary democracy, and at the same time, contain the danger posed by Covid-19 to our people,” he said.
Masing had predicted that the state election could be held by October, two months after the lifting of the Emergency on Aug 1.