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Elections Department to study possibility of allowing overseas Singaporeans to mail in votes

The Elections Department at 11 Novena Rise.

The Elections Department at 11 Novena Rise.

SINGAPORE — The Elections Department (ELD) is studying the introduction of voting by post to allow Singaporeans overseas to mail in their votes, said Minister-in-charge of the Public Service Chan Chun Sing on Thursday (Mar 3).

Speaking in Parliament in response to a parliamentary question from Mr Melvin Yong (PAP-Radin Mas), Mr Chan noted that travel difficulties can make it difficult for Singaporeans living overseas to vote.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, 6,500 overseas Singaporeans registered to vote in General Election 2020, up from 3,500 in 2011.

Many overseas Singaporeans “remain engaged” with Singapore and are keen to exercise their voting rights, Mr Chan noted.

ELD has established overseas polling stations for them to cast their votes, he added.

“This is because voting by paper ballot at polling stations remains the most transparent and secure method of voting that best ensures the integrity of the voting process and secrecy of votes,” said Mr Chan.

“However, ELD recognises that it may not be possible for various reasons for some overseas Singaporeans to travel to these overseas polling stations to vote.”

This is why the authorities are studying if it can introduce postal voting and allow overseas Singaporeans to mail in their votes, he added.

For General Election 2020, ELD also made special arrangements to allow voters on stay-home notice at designated hotels to cast their votes, Mr Chan.

ELD is looking to pilot this arrangement for voters residing at some nursing homes, he added.

With this in place, nursing homes will no longer need to bring their elderly residents to the polling stations to vote, said Mr Chan.

“Any new voting arrangements will need to provide balance between greater voting accessibility and convenience for votes with ensuring the integrity of the voting process and secrecy of the vote,” said Mr Chan.

ELD expects to engage the public and key stakeholders like the political parties, nursing homes and overseas Singaporeans on piloting these initiatives in the middle of this year, he added. CNA

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