What is Process of Elections according to Malaysian Constitution?

(1) Introduction

The founding pillars of any democratic political system are elections. The elections are the most critical and visible means through which all citizens can peacefully choose or their leaders. Free and fair elections are the keystone of any democracy. They are essential for the peaceful transfer of power. The Malaysian Constitution provides for the process of elections in the Malaysian Federation.

(2) Process Of Elections According To Malaysian Constitution

According to the Malaysian Constitution, the process of elections can be explained in the following words:

  • (i) Dissolution of Parliament & state legislative assemblies
  • (ii) Elections
  • (iii) Federal & state constituencies
  • (iv) Election Commission
  • (v) Voters
  • (vi) Candidates
  • (vii) Mechanism of elections

(i) Dissolution Of Parliament & State Legislative Assemblies

The election process starts with the dissolution of Parliament and state legislative assemblies. Therefore, national and state elections are held.

(ii) Elections

Two kinds of elections are held in Malaysia:

  • (a) State elections
  • (b) General elections
  • (c) Period
  • (d) Date

(a) State Elections

State elections are held for the state legislative assemblies.

(b) General Elections

General elections are held for the House of Representatives.

(c) Period

State elections and general elections are held after every five years.


If the state assembly or the House of Representative is dissolved before completion of five years, the elections can be held earlier.

(d) Date

Usually, general elections for the House of Representatives and state elections for the state legislative assemblies are held together. However, they can be held separately too.

(iii) Federal & State Constituencies

Each state has different federal and state constituencies:

  • (a) Number of constituencies
  • (b) Two votes

(a) Number Of Constituencies

Number of federal and state constituencies is not fixed for each state. The number has been varying since the Independence Day.

(b) Two votes

Every voter castes two votes; one vote is casted to elect member of the House of Representatives and other vote is casted to elect the member of state legislative assembly.


The voter in federal territories of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan castes only one vote to elect the members of the House of Representatives. The reason is that there are no state legislative assemblies or local councils in these territories.

(iv) Election Commission

Article 113 of the Malaysian Constitution establishes an Election Commission:

  • (a) Elections
  • (b) Electoral rolls
  • (c) Boundaries of federal & state constituencies
  • (d) Voter registration & voters list
  • (e) Contesting candidates

(a) Elections

It is to conduct general elections for the House of Representatives, state elections for the state legislative assemblies and by-elections.

(b) Electoral Rolls

It is to and revise electoral rolls for the elections.

(c) Boundaries Of Federal & State Constituencies

It is to set and review the boundaries of federal and state constituencies.

(d) Voter Registration & Voters List

It is to carry out voter registration and review voters list.

(e) Contesting Candidates

It is to register the contesting candidates and ensure that the candidates fulfill the required qualifications.

(v) Voters

Only registered voters vote in the elections. A person is eligible to be registered as a voter if he fulfills the following conditions:

  • (a) Citizenship
  • (b) Age
  • (c) Residence
  • (d) Loss of eligibility

(a) Citizenship

He is citizen of Malaysia.

(b) Age

His age is twenty one years at the time of his registration as voter.

(c) Residence

He is resident in any of the constituencies.

(d) Loss Of Eligibility

He has not lost eligibility to vote.

(vi) Candidates

There can be election candidates from the political parties or there can be independent candidates:

  • (a) Qualifications of candidate
  • (b) Disqualifications of candidate

(a) Qualifications Of Candidate

A person can be candidate of the elections if he fulfills the following qualifications:

  • (a-i) Citizenship
  • (a-ii) Residence in Malaysia
  • (a-iii) Age

(a-iv) Residence in state

(a-i) Citizenship

He is citizen of Malaysia.

(a-ii) Residence

In Malaysia He is residing in Malaysia.

(a-iii) Age

His age is twenty one years on the day of nomination of candidates.

(a-iv) Residence In State

He is residing in the state where he is contesting the elections.

(b) Disqualifications of candidates

A candidate is disqualified from contesting the elections on the basis of any of the following grounds:

  • (b-i) Insanity
  • (b-ii) Bankruptcy
  • (b-iii) Office of profit
  • (b-iv) Election expenses reports
  • (b-v) Guilty
  • (b-vi) Foreign citizenship

(b-i) Insanity

He is found or declared insane.

(b-ii) Bankruptcy

He is declared bankrupt.

(b-iii) Office Of Profit

He is holding an office of profit.

(b-iv) Election Expenses Reports

He fails to submit the election expenses reports.

(b-v) Guilty

He is found guilty by a Malaysian Court and is sentenced to prison for a period of one year or is fined RM 2000 and is not pardoned.

(b-vi) Foreign Citizenship

He has obtained foreign citizenship.

(vii) Mechanism Of Elections

There is a specific mechanism for the elections:

  • (a) Nomination day
  • (b) Election campaign
  • (c) Use of election symbols
  • (d) Voting day
  • (e) Voting casting area
  • (f) Who are allowed to be at polling stations?
  • (g) Casting of vote
  • (h) Casting of vote by post
  • (j) Vote counting
  • (k) Official summation of votes
  • (l) Declaration of successful candidate
  • (m) Storage & disposal of ballot papers
  • (n) Election petition

(a) Nomination Day

Nomination day is the day that the Election Commission set for the candidates to submit their nomination papers to the managing officer in order to contest the elections:

(a-i) Who can submit nomination papers?

(a-ii) Deposit

(a-i) Who Can Submit Nomination Papers?

The candidate or his proposers or his supporters or both his proposers and supporters can submit the candidate’s nomination papers.

(a-ii) Deposit

A candidate is to submit a deposit of RM 10,000 for contesting a federal seat and RM 5,000 for a state seat to the managing officer before or on the nomination day.

(b) Election Campaign

The election campaign starts after the completion of nomination process and must be stopped at twelve midnight the day before elections day.

(c) Use Of Election Symbols Candidates are free to use symbols:

  • (c-i) Political party candidate
  • (c-ii) Independent candidates

(c-i) Political Party Candidate

A candidate, who represents a political party, can use the party’s symbol if he obtains written permission from the head of the party.

(e-ii) Independent Candidates

Independent candidates have to choose any of the symbols that the Election Commission provides.

(d) Voting Day

Voting day means the day when the voters cast their votes:

  • (d-i) Notices
  • (d-ii) Gazetted voting centres
  • (d-iii) Election staff

(d-i) Notices

The Election Commission usually releases notices to inform the public about date for voting, polling stations, time for casting votes at all voting centers, and location of the voting counting and summation.

(d-ii) Gazetted Voting Centres

Voting is carried out in the gazette voting centres.

(d-iii) Election Staff

Election staff is appointed at every gazette voting centre: there is a Returning Officer, who is in charge of the voting process and is helped by a voting clerk and a vote-counting clerk.

(e) Voting Casting Area

Only voters whose names are in the voter registry of a voting station are allowed to enter to cast their vote. The voters are to bring with them their voter identification cards.

(f) Who are Allowed To Be At Polling Stations?

Only following officials are allowed to enter the polling action to keep the conditions under control and to maintain the ballot secrecy:

  • (f-i) Members and officer of the Election Commission
  • (f-ii) Returning Officer and staff
  • (f-iii) Candidates and their representatives
  • (f-iv) Voting agents and voting counting agents
  • (f-v) Authorized personnel, who are permitted by the Election Commission

(g) Casting Of Vote

There are some rules for the voters to cast their votes:

  • (g-i) Confidential
  • (g-ii) One candidate
  • (g-iii) Marking
  • (g-iv) Folding
  • (g-v) Ballot box

(g-i) Confidential

Casting of vote must be kept confidential.

(g-ii) One Candidate

A voter can only select the name of one candidate among the candidates, who are named on the ballot paper.

(g-iii) Marking

The voter is to mark “X” on the box that is adjacent to his selected candidate’s name.

(g-iv) Folding

After marking the ballot paper, the voter is to fold the ballot paper according to the line on the ballot paper.

(g-v) Ballot Box

Finally he is to put the ballot paper into the provided ballot box.

(h) Casting Of Vote By Post

Followings are entitled to cast their vote by post:

  • (h-i) Members of the Armed Forces
  • (h-ii) Members of the Forest Police
  • (h-iii) Election workers
  • (h-iv) Government officials, who are serving abroad
  • (h-v) Student, who are studying abroad, and their spouses

(j) Vote Counting

There some rules for vote counting:

  • (j-i) Returning Officer
  • (j-ii) Managing Officer
  • (j-iii) Authorized personnel

(j-i) Returning Officer

Returning Officer is to carry out vote counting at the polling station or vote counting centre.

(j-ii) Managing Officer

Managing Officer is to count the postal votes for a particular constituency at the fixed vote counting centre.

(j-iii) Authorized Personnel

Only the following authorized personnel are allowed to Enter the vote counting area:

  • (w) and officers of the Election Commission
  • (x) Officers, who are appointed by the Election Commission
  • (y) Vote counting clerks
  • (z) Candidates, their representatives and their vote counting agents

(k) Official Summation Of Votes

After the conclusion of the vote counting at the polling stations and vote counting centres, the results of the voting are submitted to the Managing Officer at the vote summation centre. The Managing Officer totals up all the votes to determine the winner.

(l) Declaration Of Successful Candidate

The Managing Officer for a constituency is to declare the candidate with the majority as the elected representative of the constituency.

(m) Storage & Disposal Of Ballot Papers

Storage and disposal of the ballot papers and other related documents are an important stage of the election process:

  • (m-i) Box or special box
  • (m-ii) Storage
  • (m-iii) Voter registry & ballot paper counterfoils
  • (m-iv) Opening of boxes
  • (m-v) Disposal

(m-i) Box Or Special Box

The ballots papers and other related documents are kept in special box and locked. This whole process is witnessed a box or by the candidates’ agents.

(m-ii) Storage

The special boxes are stored for six months under the supervision of the Managing Officer.

(m-iii) Voter Registry & Ballot Paper Counterfoils

The State Director of Elections is to keep the voter registry and the ballot paper counterfoils.

(m-iv) Opening Of Boxes

These boxes can only be opened under the orders of a High Court Judge if there are any petitions to challenge the electoral results.

(m-v) Disposal

After a period of six months, the Managing Officer is to dispose the ballot papers and the related documents:

  • (x) Permission of Election Commission
  • (y) Certificate of Disposal

(x) Permission Of Election Commission

He does so upon obtaining permission from the Election Commission..

(y) Certificate Of Disposal

After disposing, he is to issue a Certificate of Disposal to the State Director of Elections.

(n) Election Petition

Electoral results can be challenged through writ petition in the High Court:

  • (n-i) Time-limit
  • (n-ii) Notice for new election

(n-i) Time-Limit

Such writ petition can be submitted to the High Court within twenty one days of the date the election results are published in the Gazette.

(n-ii) Notice For New Election

If the High Court declares the election void, the Election Commission is to issue a notice to hold new election in the affected constituency.

(3) Conclusion

It can be finally stated that the Malaysian process of elections follows the First Past the Post system. In this system, candidates can be from political parties or can be independent candidates. The voters of a constituency vote for one candidate only, and the candidate, who receives the highest number of votes, wins the seat of that constituency.

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