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Upon completing this topic, students should be able to :

Explain the concept of voters and elections The functions of election Elaborate factors that influence voters during elections. Identify election systems Discuss the roles of the Election Commission in Malaysia.

8.1 Definition of Voters and Elections

8.1.1 Definition of voters / electors

Voters can be defined as people / citizens who enjoy the rights to elect their representatives / who has a legal right to vote. They exercise the power of voting and periodically elect their representatives. They are small fraction of the whole population. The entire body of voters or electors is known as electorate (the whole population minus those (at any time) are denied the right to vote).

8.1.2 Definition of Elections

Election is an organized process in which people choose a person to a position of public importance such as presidency, or a group of people to represent them in national or state assemblies.(S.S. Islam & A.R. Moten) This process involves the following: The act of selecting someone or something; The exercise of deliberate choice; Casting votes to select the winner of a position or political office. Can be held in many settings from students unions to corporate office or national polling;

Functions of election:
Elections are the means to render governments accountable to the governed. Elections are the means to choose those who will guide and direct affairs of the government. Elections provide legitimacy to the government. Elections are expected to convince the outside world that the government has mass support. Elections serve the function of mobilization / change

8.2 Theories of Franchise

Franchise refers to the rights to vote granted to citizens by the State in a country. One of the most difficult problems of democracy is, what should be the true basis of franchise? Two prominent schools of thought / theories: - Universal franchise and, - Limited franchise.

8.2.1 Universal franchise / suffrage:

This school emerged in the eighteenth century i.e. when the doctrines of natural rights, equality of men, and popular sovereignty were favourite themes of every political thinker. Idea: -Sovereignty ultimately resided in the people and it was the right of every citizen to vote and participate in the determination of the policy of government. - Democracy postulated equality of men and political equality could be assured only when all citizens were granted the right to vote. - To safeguard and represent the interests of all elements of population, it was essential that everyone must possess the right to have his / her opinion counted in the final decision of public affairs.

8.2.2 Limited franchise / suffrage:

This school was led by Bluntschli, Lecky, J.S. Mills and Sir Henry Maine which against the idea of universal suffrage. Idea - it is suggested that all citizens of the State should not possess the right to vote. - franchise was not an inherent right of a citizen. - it was a right which was conferred by the State and should no granted to all. - it was a sacred right which required an informal exercise of judgment in the election of representatives.

Theories of franchise contd

The modern view in regard to the nature of suffrage: - it is an office or function which is conferred by the State upon only such persons as are believed to be most capable of exercising it for the public good and not a natural right which belongs without distinction to all citizens of the State.- - depends on the States electoral laws. However, now universal suffrage admitted that its advocates meant universal adult suffrage male and female. Requirement: -citizenship -age -residence -registration

Theories of franchise contd

Groups had always been excluded from the right to vote: -the minors -the lunatics or idiots -the aliens -the criminals in confinement etc.

8.3 Factors that influence voters

Why do people vote the way they do? Some factors are related to the voters and some are related to the candidates / parties. Sociological factors ethical values, civic duty, social pressures, parental influence etc. Demographic factors gender, age, residence etc. Religion and ethnic background people tend to vote parties or candidates from the same religion or ethnic group

Factors that influence voters

Social class, income, and occupation. -Upper and middle classes go for Republic;lower classes go for Democrats. -Unions vote Democrat, while professionals and business people support the Republicans. The candidates the impression a particular candidate makes on the voters can have an impact on their preferences. Psychological factors what is in the mind of the voters: their perceptions of parties, candidates, and issues

Factors that influence voters contd

Mass media - six main functions - entertaining i.e.stimulate discussion of important issues by presenting them in dramatic form - reporting the news : a primary function of a media in a democratic country - Identifying public problems: a crucial role that helps to set the public agenda - Providing a political forum : offers citizens a way to participate in the public debate - Making profits :the private media are privately owned businesses


Election Systems

The electoral system currently in use in representative democracies can be divided into two basic kinds: majoritarian systems and proportional representation systems In majoritarian electoral systems, winning candidates are those having attracted the most votes in a given electoral district. - Majoritarian systems differ according to the number of representatives elected in an electoral district and the kinds of majorities (simple or absolute) that winners must achieve. - schemes: Single Member Plurality Systems, Multi-Member Plurality Systems and Single-Member Majoritarian Systems

8.4.1 Single-Member Plurality/ Constituency Systems

Majority System electoral formula usually used in singlemember constituency according to which the candidate who receives the majority of votes cast is elected There are two options: absolute majority (the candidate who obtained 50%+1 of votes cast is elected) or simple majority or plurality (the candidate who obtained the largest number of votes cast is elected).

Single-Member Plurality/ Constituency Systems..,Contd

The system are commonly found in countries that have inherited elements of the British parliamentary systems. In electoral districts, they are represented by one member in an elected assembly. Each elector marks a single X(or other similar mark) beside the name of the candidate of his or her choice.

Single-Member Plurality/ Constituency Systems..,Contd

This kind of electoral system is referred to as a singlemember plurality or a first past the post system. This sort of electoral systems are used in Canada,United States, New Zealand, Malaysia and United Kingdom

8.4.2 Proportional Representation/ MultiMember Districts Systems

The second major category of electoral system is known as proportional representation or PR. PR systems are specifically designed to allocate seats in proportion to votes,in the hope that assemblies governments will accurately reflect the preferences of the electorate. In other words,PR a family of electoral system,where the seats are allocated on proportional basis according to the number of votes cast for each candidate or political party.

Proportional Representation /Multi Member Districts Systemscontd

It includes Party List PR, Single Transferable Vote and Mixed Member Proportional PR systems are now the most frequently used electoral systems in western democracies Under PR, political parties are assigned a number of seats in parliament corresponding to the degree of support they have received in a given electoral district

Proportional Representation Systems..contd

Of necessity this arrangement dictates that all PR systems rely on multi-member districts.

PR system are of two basic types: - Party List System the total number of votes won by a party will determine how many candidates are elected from the list. - Single Transferable Vote (STV) system allows voters maximum choice of candidate and guarantees that all votes will be used to select representative.

8.5 The Malaysian Election Commission

8.5.1 Introduction This institution was firstly formed on 4th September 1957 through Articles 113 and 114 of the Constitution of the Federation of Malaya

It provided for the appointment of a chairman and three members

In 1981, Article 114 of the Federal Constitution was amended to provide for the appointment of a deputy chairman

The Malaysian Election Commissioncontd

8.5.2 Formation Article 114 (1) the commission shall be constituted by the King (YDPA) after consulting the Conference of Rulers.

The King acts upon the advice of Prime Minister (and the sitting members of his cabinet). This implies the relations between the Commission and the sitting government that led to the question on the Commission independence.

The Malaysian Election Commission contd

8.5.3 Members of the Commission Members are appointed through Article 114(2) Three principal members: - Chairman - Deputy Chairman - Three other members Terms of service: - Members shall hold office until they reach the age of 65 - They may resign by writing to the King
- They may not be removed from their office but - They may be removed under condition similar in manner to remove a

a judge of the Federal or High Courts.

Members of the Commissioncontd

Any member can be removed by the King if he/she: Is an undischarged bankrupt or Engages in any paid office or employment outside the duties of his office or Is a member of either House of parliament or the Legislative Assembly of state or His /her behaviour unbecoming of this office or Unable to discharge his/her duties due to: - State of his / her or - Mental condition

8.5.4 Functions of the Election Commission

The functions of the Commission are stipulated in various sections of Articles of 113 to 120 and also in the Thirteenth Schedule of the Federal Constitution Some of the main functions are as follow: - Conduct election - Prepare and Revise Electoral Roll - Review the division of the federal and state constituencies - Make rules almost there.

1. Elaborate on the functions of elections (25 marks). 2. Explain on the theory of franchise (25 marks). 3. Distinguish universal franchise from limited franchise (25 marks). 4. With relevant examples, elaborate on various factors that influence voters (25 marks). 5. Elaborate on the functions of Malaysian Election Commission (25 marks).