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GE2020 explainer: What are sample counts and how they are generated

SINGAPORE — Voters eagerly awaiting the results of the 13th General Election (GE) will be presented with a slew of numbers on Friday (July 10) evening and possibly stretching into the wee hours of the next day, starting with the “sample counts” for each Group Representation Constituency (GRC) and Single Member Constituency being contested.

The queue at Dunearn Secondary School polling station around 1.40pm on Friday, July 10. The Elections Department (ELD) started publicly releasing sample counts in the previous GE held in 2015, aimed at providing an early indication of the results in each of the constituencies, ahead of the release of the final results.

The queue at Dunearn Secondary School polling station around 1.40pm on Friday, July 10. The Elections Department (ELD) started publicly releasing sample counts in the previous GE held in 2015, aimed at providing an early indication of the results in each of the constituencies, ahead of the release of the final results.

SINGAPORE — Voters eagerly awaiting the results of the 13th General Election (GE) will be presented with a slew of numbers on Friday (July 10) evening and possibly stretching into the wee hours of the next day, starting with the “sample counts” for each Group Representation Constituency (GRC) and Single Member Constituency being contested.

The Elections Department Singapore (ELD) started publicly releasing sample counts in the previous GE held in 2015, aimed at providing an early indication of the results in each of the constituencies, ahead of the release of the final results.

The first sample count in GE2015 was released at about 9.40pm, less than two hours after voting closed at 8pm on Sept 11 that year.

After the final results of the 2015 polls were announced, media outlets reported that the difference between sample results and actual results ranged between zero and about three percentage points. The final electoral results for most constituencies were within one percentage point of the sample count result.

Voting for GE2020 will close at 10pm, after ELD announced that voting hours would be extended by two hours.

For this GE, the ELD had previously announced that voters may receive polling results more quickly, thanks to mechanical counting machines that will process hardcopy ballot papers.

The counting machines, similar to those used to handle and count banknotes, would speed up the counting process and raise efficiency.

TODAY explains what are sample counts and how they are generated:

WHAT IS A SAMPLE COUNT?

A sample count is performed at the start of the counting process to get an early indication of the possible electoral outcome for that electoral division.

WHY DOES THE ELD RELEASE A SAMPLE COUNT?

According to the ELD, it helps prevent speculation and misinformation from unofficial sources while counting is underway, before counting is completed and the election results are announced.

A sample count also helps election officials check against the result for that electoral division.

HOW A SAMPLE COUNT IS TAKEN AND USED

From the votes cast at each polling station, a counting assistant picks up a random bundle of 100 ballot papers. This is done in front of the candidates and counting agents.

The counting assistant then counts the number of votes for each candidate, or group of candidates in the case of a GRC.

The votes will be added up, with weightage given to account for the difference in the number of votes cast at each polling station.

A sample count for the electoral division will be shown as a percentage of valid votes garnered by each candidate or group of candidates.

After a sample count is taken, the assistant returning officer records the votes for each candidate or group of candidates in a form and shares the sample count for the polling station with the candidates and counting agents present.

The sample count for the electoral division will then be released to the media and published on the ELD’s website, while counting is still in progress.

As this is a sample count, the election result could be different. The final election result is announced by the returning officer when the counting — and, where necessary, recounting — of all votes is completed.

Related topics

Singapore General Election SGVotes2020 polling station sample count Elections Department

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