PETALING JAYA (June 9, 2013): Astonishing as it may seem, it is technically possible for a political party to win a simple majority in Parliament and form the government by garnering a mere 2.21 million votes (or 16.7%) of the total electorate.
Because of the imbalance of registered voters in the 222 parliamentary constituencies, there are currently only 4,408,975 voters or 33.22% of the total electorate of 13,268,110 in the 112 seats with smaller numbers of registered voters.
The 112 constituencies have a very much smaller number of registered voters, ranging from 15,791 (Putrajaya) to 56,280 (Kuantan), in contrast with the remaining 110 constituencies with more voters, some in excess of 100,000, with the highest being Kapar with 144,159 registered voters.
As such, a political party needs to just win by one vote in these 112 seats – a third of which are in Sabah and Sarawak – to obtain a simple majority and form the federal government.
Calculations by theSun show that if a party were to win 50.1% in each of these 112 seats, it would only need to get about 2,209,000 votes (or about 16.65% of the total electorate).
The actual calculation based on half the total voters plus 1 in each of the constituencies, puts the actual number at 2,208,353, which is a mere 16.64 % of the total number of voters in the electoral roll during the recently concluded 13th general election.
And if one were to consider voter turnout on polling day to be around 80%, it would mean the actual number of votes needed to win the 112 seats would be even less, at around 1,767,117 or a mere 13.4% of the total electorate.
Hence, the numbers are very compelling reasons for the Election Commission (EC) to ensure that each vote should, as much as possible, be accorded equal value or weight in all parliamentary constituencies.
On Saturday, the EC denied claims of inequality among constituencies, claiming that critics had not considered the increase in voter population over the last decade.
EC deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar claimed the voter population had increased and there had been much urban migration since.
"The inequality among the constituencies was not that large when it was drawn up in 2002," said Wan Ahmad, adding it is unfair to compare the number of voters like Kapar (144,159) to Putrajaya (15,791).
"When people talk about 'malapportionment', they refer to the 2002 numbers. It is not fair to compare the present figures to the 2002 numbers," he said at a public forum themed "Constituency Delineation – Knowing where to draw the lines", organised by the Bar Council.
Wan Ahmad said the EC would consider the 15% voter variance rule for seats in the same category namely urban, semi-urban and rural seats when conducting the next review.
If this rule is applied, the difference in the number of voters between two urban constituencies or two rural constituencies would be less than 15%.
Wan Ahmad said there have been many complaints over the high variance percentage of voters between constituencies, adding that he agreed that there were areas like Baling which were "hard to justify".
Baling, which is considered a rural seat, has 93,376 voters compared to Alor Star, an urban seat in the same state with 69,189 voters.
The EC had last month announced it will study all proposals thoroughly when it conducts the redelineation process.
Opposition leaders have also called for the "one man, one vote, one value" ideal to be practised in light of the recent election, where Pakatan Rakyat won 51% of popular vote, but only secured 89 of the 222 parliamentary seats.
Under Article 113(2)(ii) of the Federal Constitution, a redelineation exercise should be conducted between eight and 10 years from the last one. The last time the EC conducted the redelineation exercise was in 2003.