“One person, one vote” is a key principle to ensure political equality in a democratic society. In layman's terms, it means every citizen has the same power when it comes to voting.

To many, it sounds pretty reasonable and intuitive but the implementation of this principle has been heavily manipulated in many political systems including Malaysia's.

We know that each Malaysian voter can only cast one vote to elect one Member of Parliament (MP) to represent him or her in Parliament. However, not every vote carries the same weight under the current electoral system.

For example, in a thinly-populated constituency like *Putrajaya*, the 17,925 voters there elect one MP, while in a overcrowded constituency like *Subang*, the 130,211 voters there - seven times the number of voters in *Putrajaya* - also elect one MP.

Putrajaya MP

17,925 voters

Subang MP

130,211 voters

In other words, one vote in *Putrajaya* has the same weight as seven votes in *Subang*. Voters in *Subang* are under-represented, while voters in *Putrajaya* are over-represented. This malpractice is called malapportionment, a violation of the “one person, one vote” principle.

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Let's see how malapportionment affected the results of the 2013 general election

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There are **222** parliamentary seats in Malaysia. Each seat is represented by a horizontal line here.

The length of the line represents the number of voters in that seat.

The number of voters per seat ranges from **17,925** (Putrajaya) to **146,625** (Kapar in Selangor). The national average number of voters per seat is **61,103.**

48,273.

The rest were won by the **opposition**. The average number of voters in an opposition seat is **79,921.**

If we only look at **rural seats**, the difference in voter numbers in seats won by the opposition compared to BN is still **big**.

It is **even bigger** among **urban seats**.

This is part of the reason why BN retained power in the 2013 general election by winning **60% of seats** with a mere **47% of votes**, while the opposition coalition won **40% of seats** with **51% of votes**.

Mouse over or tap each bar to see the details of each seat.

Please refresh this page to see the animated charts.

According to the 2016 first quarter voter list, the number of voters in the largest parliamentary seat, Kapar in Selangor (146,625), is over eight times the number of voters in Putrajaya (17,925), the smallest parliamentary seat.

Out of 222 parliamentary seats in total, it wins 112 seats that have smaller voter numbers to form the federal government. Additionally, it only wins each seat by a one-vote majority. It loses all the votes in the other 110 larger seats. The total number of votes it secures in such situation is only 17% of the total vote.

You might ask if there are laws that prohibit such violations of political equality. There used to be, but they were removed by Parliament.

In the 1957 constitution, the number of voters in the smallest and largest seats were not allowed to exceed 15 percent of the national average. It means that if the national average number of voters in a parliamentary seat was 10,000, the largest parliamentary seat would have a maximum of 11,500 voters; whereas the smallest parliamentary seat would have a minimum of 8,500 voters.

This number was increased to 33.33% in the Constitution (Amendment) Act 1962. It was then totally removed in 1973 through another constitutional amendment, giving the Election Commission carte blanche to redraw constituency boundaries.

You can choose to move to smaller constituencies like *Putrajaya* and vote there to maximise your voting power, or you can support initiatives to reform the electoral system like the *Bersih* movement.

Most importantly, register as a voter and vote - else you will have no voting power at all.

Note: The number of votes in each parliamentary seat is based on the electoral roll for the first quarter of 2016 published by the Election Commission. The classification of parliamentary seats into urban, semi-rural and rural is based on the study done by research firm Politweet.org, as the Election Commission does not classify each seat. Read more about the methodology here.

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Code | Seat | Voters | Party | MP | State | Class |