How do elections work in Malaysia? (Part 4)

Counting the votes

Vote counting is carried out by the Presiding Officer at the polling station or at a specified central counting place. Postal votes for each constituency are counted by the Returning Officer at the specified place.


During the counting, only authorised persons are allowed to be present. They are:

i) Election Commission members and officers;

ii) officers appointed by the Election Commission;

iii) counting clerks; and

iv) candidates and their election/counting agents.


Candidates can each appoint a polling agent to safeguard their interest at the polling station. The agent’s role is to ensure that voting is conducted in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations and the counting is correct, fair and transparent.


After the counting is completed, a statement of the results is forwarded to the Returning Officer at the tally centre. The Returning Officer will add all the votes, including the postal votes, to determine the winner. The Returning Officer for a constituency will declare the candidate who secures a simple majority as the elected representative of that constituency.


Election petition

The results of the election can be challenged in court. A petition can be lodged on the following grounds:

i) bribery, intimidation or any misconduct that affects the result of the elections;

ii) violation of election laws and regulations;

iii) corrupt or illegal practice committed by the candidates or their agents;

iv) the candidates or their agents are found to be disqualified from contesting.


The election petition can be presented to the High Court within 21 days after publication of the results in the Gazette. If the judge, after conducting a trial, decides the elections to be void, the Election Commission will give notice of a fresh election for the constituency concerned.


Storage and disposal of election documents

These documents are placed in a special box or boxes and securely sealed in the presence of the candidates’ agents. They are kept for six months in the Returning Officer’s custody.


The State Election Officer will store the marked electoral rolls and the counterfoils of the ballot papers. According to the Election Commission, this is to ensure the secrecy of the vote. The boxes are only to be opened in cases of petition, under the order of a High Court judge.


After the period of six months, the Returning Officer, on obtaining permission from the Election Commission, will destroy the ballot papers and documents. The Returning Officer will submit a certificate of disposal to the State Election Officer.


Rules of the game

1. Federal Constitution

2. States Constitution

3. Election Act, 1958 (Act 19)

4. Election Offences Act, 1954 (Act 5)

5. Elections (Conduct of Elections) Regulations, 1981

6. Elections (Registration of Electors) Regulations, 2002

7. Elections (Postal Voting) Regulations 2003


Other laws that are not directly involved in the electoral process but have a role or an effect on the electoral process are:

  1. Police Act 1962

  2. Sedition Act 1970

  3. Official Secrets Act 1972

  4. Internal Security Act 1960.


(Sources: Election Commission, elections laws)


How do elections work in Malaysia? (Part 1)


How do elections work in Malaysia? (Part 2)

How do elections work in Malaysia? (Part 3)