KOTA KINABALU, Aug 17 — The Election Commission today set September 26 for the Sabah snap state election.
Its deputy chairman Azmi Sharom said there will be a two-week campaigning period from September 12 to 26.
“Early voting will be on September 22,” he said during the press conference this afternoon.
The state polls were triggered when Head of State Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Juhar Mahiruddin dissolved the assembly on July 30 at caretaker chief minister Shafie’s advice in a pre-emptive move to prevent a toppling by former chief minister Tan Sri Musa Aman after some 13 assemblymen defected to support Musa.
Azmi said that 1,124,598 voters will be eligible to vote on September 26, including 1.1 million regular voters, 9,448 military personnel and their and spouses, 11,423 policemen and spouses and 81 overseas voters.
The EC is expecting a voter turnout of 70 per cent, taking into account outstation voters who will not be able to vote without the postal voting service.
He assured voters that there will be improved standard operating procedures based on their experience during the Chini and the Slim by-elections.
Azmi promised that the commission will continue its practice of broadcasting the counting phase live.
“There will be 332 additional streams to avoid crowds, making it a total of 2,613 streams and additional lines for the handicapped,” he said.
The election is expected to cost some RM186 million. 64 nomination centre and vote counting centres will be set up to facilitate the 72 state assembly seats that will be contested.
When asked about the improvisations, Azmi said based on what happened during the Chini by election, which also had a 70 per cent voters turnout rate showed that crowds were manageable with the SOPs in place.
“In fact, we hope that we can expedite the process now by keeping the same SOPs in place but streamlining the process. We are confident we can carry it out even faster, while still being safe,” he said, adding that they had collaborated with the National Security Council and Health Ministry to come up with the guidelines.
On whether the impending judgement on a court case involving the possibility of an injunction to stop the polls had any effect on the decision, Azmi said that they have not been issued a court order on the matter.
“We have not received any advice from the court so we will carry on the process until got court order,” he said.
Former chief minister Tan Sri Musa Aman and 32 assemblymen have initiated a suit against the EC, Juhar and Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal in effort to stop the polls, claiming that Juhar was wrongly-advised to dissolve the state assembly.
The court earlier had set this Friday, August 21 to decide whether Juhar’s decision is justiciable.