SDP sends letter to Election Department to seek clarification on election protocol

SDP feature

Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) sends a letter to Singapore’s Election Department for clarification on the election protocols. Below is SDP’s letter in full.

Dear Sir, I’m writing to your good office to clarify Election Protocols with regard to the movement of Polling Agents, Counting Agents and Candidates within the Polling and Counting Centres. We are seeking clear, concise and written rules that will be practised by all Returning Officers.

Being the Principal Election Agent for the GE 2011 campaign for the SDP, I personally experienced and received feedback from the Polling Agents, Counting Agents and the Candidates themselves, directly. We have documented this.

SDP’s list of Polling and Counting Agents was required across 94 Polling Stations and 19 Counting Centres spread across the Holland Bukit Timah, Yuhua, Bukit Panjang and the Sembawang districts.

GE 2011 – Polling Centres
8 polling centres in Yuhua
11 in Bukit Panjang
31 in Holland Bukit Timah
44 in Sembawang
GE 2011 – Counting centres
1 in Yuhua
1 in Bukit Panjang
7 in Holland Bukit Timah
10 in Sembawang

On Polling Day itself, many were frustrated at having to face difficulties at the various centres due to miscommunication from the Elections Department.

There were reports from the various centres of different practices by the Returning Officers and their Presiding Officials. We had reports of Polling Agents not being allowed back into the stations after their meals and at some other centres they were allowed in after their meals without any hassle.

There were reports of Returning Officials demanding that Polling Agents present their original Oaths of Secrecy before being allowed back in, and at the other centres Officials just asked for a copy of their oaths.

As to the Counting Centres, we had reports that at some counting centres, a number of counting agents allocated were allowed in. Some counting centres allowed a group of counting agents to be present at the counting tables, and allowed another group to standby within the hall as replacements. But at other centres, this was not allowed.

Prior to Polling Day, we approached the Elections Department to verify the Polling and Counting Agents protocols and procedures. Amazingly, we were given different methods of calculating the number of Polling and Counting Agents by the Election Department officials. Personally, I was told of three different methods, one on the phone, another at the front desk of the Election Department and yet another different one from the Returning Officer.

I queried the Election Officials at the department on the procedures of assigning the number of Polling Agents and on the movement of the Agents on Polling Day whereby they had to have their lunch and toilet breaks but I was given only a verbal briefing. I requested for written procedures to be given and they refused to furnish any. This ultimately resulted on the insufficient and/or excessive Polling and Counting Agents turning up at the various centres. Most of our Counting Agents were turned away.

On Polling day, the Polling Agents at some centres in Sembawang were allowed to have their lunches without hassle, while at the Holland Bukit Timah centres, our Polling Agents were not allowed to return without a copy of their original Oaths.

In Sembawang, as Principal Election Agent, I was allowed access into the counting centres to get updates of the process and assist counting agents of any clarifications. But I was denied entry into the Holland Bukit Timah centres. I questioned the Election Officers on the different manner of procedures and was not given any explanations.

In short, the multiple standards of operations by the Elections Officials at the various Polling and the Counting centres resulted in us not being able to fully utilise our resources and ground supporters/ volunteers.

Further Clarifications:

Use of Party Music/ Song during the 9 days of Campaign Rallies. Are there any restrictions?

Yuhua GE 2011 – A PAP counting agent walked into the YUHUA counting centre without the proper letter of authorisation endorsed by a Commissioner of Oaths. SDP Candidate, Ms Soh Lung and Counting Agent and Mr Choon Hiong, protested but was brushed off by the ARO at the centre. He signed on the letter of appointment and declared it valid despite our protests.

Is the ARO authorised to sign the Letter of Authorisation for the counting agent on behalf on a Commissioners of Oaths?

We have the intention to advertise via bus wrapping advertisement on a Private Hire Bus for the 9 days of electoral campaigning starting from Nomination Day for the upcoming General Election. We will mostly like do the following on the left and right sides of the
Show our party logo,
Show our slogan “Your Voice in Parliament”

Mr Tan Kin Lian, the presidential candidate for the Presidential Elections 2011, has done something similiar during his campaigning period on his bus which advertises:

An image of his face
His election symbol
His election slogan, “Voice of the People”

Please do advise if there is any of the following needed:
Fees(if any) for a permit, if any,
Processing time of the permit, if any
Restriction times of the advertisement
Limits to the size of advertisement

Your staff, Mr Goh Feng Chen mentioned in our tele-conversation on 6 Aug that “we should engage our legal advisor to ascertain the legality of our request in the Parliamentary Elections Act”. However, our legal advisor could not find anything relevant in relation to our campaign bus proposal. Could you kindly advise us which section or chapter of the Parliamentary Elections Act should we seek reference from?

In some centres, the polling agents were allowed to go up the buses to inspect before the Ballot boxes were loaded up but in other centres, these were not allowed.

We would appreciate hearing back from you on these.
Jeffrey George
Singapore Democratic Party

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