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Elections Department to conduct survey to gather voters’ feedback on Polling Day experience

SINGAPORE — The Elections Department Singapore (ELD) said that it will conduct a survey to gather voters’ feedback on their experience at polling stations during the recently concluded General Election (GE). This is part of its ongoing review so that it can do better for future GEs, it added.

Elections Department to conduct survey to gather voters’ feedback on Polling Day experience

Long queues of people waiting to cast their votes at Henry Park Primary School polling station on July 10, 2020.

SINGAPORE  — The Elections Department Singapore (ELD) said that it will conduct a survey to gather voters’ feedback on their experience at polling stations during the recently concluded General Election (GE). This is part of its ongoing review so that it can do better for future GEs, it added.

It was responding on Staurday (July 18) to a media statement issued by Dr Paul Tambyah, chairman of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), earlier this week. He had called on the authorities to account for the “irregular events” that occurred during the GE, and asked for an inquiry into the use of tendered ballot slips. 

ELD did not respond specifically to SDP’s demands but said that it would take the opposition party’s feedback into consideration in its review over the long queues at some polling stations on Polling Day. 

It also pointed out that despite the issues at some polling stations, voter turnout was close to 96 per cent — higher than the last two GEs.

This reflected the “high level of confidence in the Covid-19 precautionary measures to protect the health and safety of voters, candidates and election officials, and voters were able to cast their votes in secret”.

In his statement, Dr Tambyah gave examples of how the election was “fraught with missteps, mistakes and misdirections”.

These included the long queues at several polling stations, the change of instructions on the use of disposable gloves, and the “sudden and unexpected” extension of voting hours to 10pm.

He also referred to an incident where a 36-year-old voter was unable to cast her ballot after being told by polling agents that her identification card had already been registered. 

The woman was identified in media reports as Madam Lum and belonged to Holland-Bukit Timah Group Representation Constituency, where SDP contested and lost with 33.64 per cent of the vote.

She had made a police report when she ended up marking her choice on a tendered ballot paper that would not be counted.

The Parliamentary Elections Act states that these tendered votes are not counted and will instead be placed into separate packets, sealed and retained.

The law also states that tendered votes are only required for the purposes of an application to void the election of a candidate on certain grounds, including in the event that illegal practices were committed.

ELD had apologised and said that the incident was a result of “human error and miscommunication”. 

In its response on Saturday, ELD noted that it had briefed the media and political parties about the plans to introduce new features such as e-registration in November last year.

It reiterated that tendered ballot papers are issued to persons who apply to cast their vote after the Presiding Officer, an election official, has informed the voter that according to the register, he has already voted. This is mentioned in its handbooks for polling and counting agents, and set out in the Parliamentary Elections Act.  

“In this instance, this was due to human error and we have since explained the situation and apologised to Mdm Lum,” it added. 

Related topics

SGVotes2020 Singapore General Election ELD SDP polling station queues

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