- PACAs are volunteer agents to help ensure the fairness of the election process.
- They oversee the election process, for both vote counting as well as number of people who come in to vote.
- The Election Commission feels like there is a need for more PACAs in the country, and having them from all walks of life could help the balance of the electoral process.
Ensuring the sanctity of the election process is one of the most crucial factors for a democratic country. One of these factors is ensuring that the counting of election ballots is done without bias.
This is partly the role of the Election Commission (EC) and the agents who signed on to help with the process, but what many Malaysians may not realise is that a normal member of the public can also volunteer to oversee the entire voting process to ensure that it’s fair.
These volunteers have signed on to help streamline the process, and later count the ballots as part of the Polling & Counting Agents (PACA).
To ensure whatever political party you support gets a fair shot at winning your DUN or parliament, it’s said that PACAs are the best monitors for the upcoming general elections.
PACAs are divided into two.
A Polling Agent’s role is to be present in each “Saluran” (Channel) at a voting station and cross out the names of those who come to vote. By the end of the day, the number of votes thrown should ideally tally with the number of names crossed out by the polling agent.
They are also there to observe in case there are any discrepancies; for instance, if someone doesn’t look like the person they claim to be, and to ensure that each person only gets one vote.
Meanwhile, Counting Agents are usually elected by their own parties. Their role is to observe the Ketua Tempat Mengundi hold up each ballot, determine for whom the vote was casted for, and watch each of these votes get sorted.
And we can always use more of them.
The EC feels that there is a need for greater participation in the election as PACA, especially now that the hype behind elections are running high.
Having more Malaysians of all political inclinations volunteering as PACA can help mitigate worries about any bias from the EC, as representatives from all political inclinations can help ensure the sanctity of the ballot-counting process.
And it helps to have more hands on deck with this as well, to ensure that all polling stations have the required number of PACA, and to cover the bases for other PACA volunteers that might be absent on the day.
While parties may say that you need to represent your beliefs during the ballot counting to ensure that the election is fair to your party, the truth is that a PACA volunteer would ideally leave their politics at the door during the vote counting process, and be fair while the ballots are counted.
The good news is, you can still register as a PACA up to 3 days before the voting day.
Here’s what you need to know about being a PACA.
According to Invoke, the following are criteria for becoming a PACA:
- Malaysians who are 21 and above
- Not bankrupt
- No conviction for offenses within 5 years
- Not convicted under the Crime Prevention Act 1959
- There is no order under section 66 (4) of the Society Act
How do I sign up to be a PACA?
The easiest way to register is for you to attend one of the many seminars and classes held on how to register and fulfill duties as a PACA.
In my own travels on the internet, I found a high number of these came from Pakatan Harapan representatives, though I was able to find calls by supporters of Barisan Nasional or PAS without too much difficulty.
Mosques, churches and the likes can be seen running similar programmes as well.
Other than being a PACA, one of the lesser-known ways of helping out during voting day is to help the Electoral Commission direct and manage a polling station on the day.
They are called Electoral Agents, and based on this account by a Malaysian, consist of everyday people hired off the streets. Unlike a PACA, these Electoral Commission Agents do get a stipend for working on polling day, though the downside is that they are unable to leave their polling stations until voting has ceased.
The rakyat deserve an election that is fair, and here is your opportunity to ensure, to the best of your ability, that each voter’s voice is heard.
It’s heartening to see Malaysians waking up to their civic duties, and we hope that this trend will continue, with a more thoughtful and educated community at its forefront.
- For those interested in joining as a PACA, Invoke does offer to help with that process and is perhaps the easiest find online, but there are other ways online to join as well, especially if your political leaning does not align with Invoke.
Feature Image Credit: Malaysian Progressives In Australia