Gerrymandering and malapportionment


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What is it?

Gerrymandering is the drawing of constituency boundaries to manipulate the results of an election. Constituencies can be drawn to disproportionally benefit a party by:

  • grouping supporters of one party together (packing)
  • isolating supporters of another (cracking)

Malapportionment is the creation of constituencies with wildly different voter to representative ratios.


How are constituencies drawn in Malaysia?

In Malaysia, constituency boundaries are redrawn once every 8 years. Constituency lines are redrawn to reflect the changing population of the area. Constituency redelineation takes into account:

  • local ties within the community
  • state, parliament and territory boundaries
  • number of eligible voters in an area (exceptions apply for rural areas)

The Election Commission must first announce to the Prime Minister and Parliament that a redelineation exercise will be done. From then, the Election Commission has 2 years to complete the exercise. Based on voter data, new constituencies will be drawn. The plans will then be put to public display twice.

The public will be able to object to the plans in writing. An inquiry will be held if more than 100 voters object to the redelineation in their constituency.

Once the redelineation plans are finalised, they are shown to the Prime Minister and put to the vote in the Dewan Rakyat. A simple majority is needed to pass the new constituency boundaries.


Symptoms

  • State constituencies crossing parliamentary constituencies
  • Communities that are split between two constituencies
  • One constituency having many more voters than surrounding constituencies
  • Constituencies drawn over large areas which don’t share local ties or needs
  • Many large local authorities in one constituency
  • Voters being 'teleported' to surrounding constituencies

Solutions

You can only object to redelineation when the Election Commission puts their plans on public display.When redelineation is being conducted in your area, look out for NGOs such as TindakMalaysia and Bersih's DART team. They specialise in analysing constituencies and they do start campaigns against gerrymandering.

If you wish to object to redelineation, you must sign a 'Bantahan' form supplied by the Election Commission and submit it to the Election Commission within the public display period. You will need your MyKad number, state and parliamentary constituency. NGOs can also help you with this.

Parliament representatives can vote down redelineation plans in Parliament, as a simple majority is needed to pass redelineation plans.

 


Malaysian Progressives in Australia (MPOZ) is a movement of young Malaysians in Australia who strive for open dialogue of political reform in Malaysia