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New polling booths and self-inking pens to be introduced in the upcoming general election in Singapore

On Friday (29 November), the Elections Depart (ELD) announced that it will be making some changes in the upcoming general election, which include adding new polling booths and self-inking pens.

The decision to introduce self-inking pens came after ELD listened to feedback by older voters who had difficulty gripping regular pens to cast their votes.

The new self-inking pens let voters to easily stamp an ‘X’ for their preferred party on the ballot paper, and this pens have been used in other counties like South Korea.

Additionally, voters in a number of constituencies will also witness a prototype polling booths made from cardboard and other recyclable materials in the next general election.

Designed by a Singapore Institute of Technology student, the new booths only cost S$30, as opposed to the old booths which cost about S$750.

The ELD revealed that it will be conducting roadshows prior to the general election to introduce and familiarise voters with the new booths.

If that’s not all, other digital services will also be rolled out to provide convenience to both voters and candidates.

Candidates can fill in most of the needed paperwork online, which include appointing election agents, paying their elections deposits as well as preparing their nomination papers.

However, they will still need to submit hard copies of nomination papers on Nomination Days.

As for voters, they will now be able to login to the SingPass website or mobile app in order to check their personal details like their name, NRIC and address in the Register of Electors.

They will also be able to check other details like their voting eligibility, voter serial number as well as electoral division and polling district, ELD noted.

Following nomination day, voters can access an electronic poll card through the SIngPass app or the ELD voter services website. This electronic version can be used in replacement of the conventional poll card.

But, physical poll cards will still be mailed out to voters, ELD said.

In order to save time during Election Day, ELD will also be introducing electronic registration at polling stations. This means that machines will scan the voters’ NRICs in order to register them, instead of manually checking their details against the electoral roll like how it used to be done in previous elections.

Mechanical counting machines will also be utilised to tally votes at counting centres. This is again done to speed up the counting process, which is currently done manually.

But, ballot papers will still be hardcopy, and counting assistants will still be in-charge of mixing, unfolding and sorting of the papers.

ELD also highlighted that it will be organising sessions for political party representatives to try out the new digital services and give feedback. However, the system will only be allowed to be used after the Writ of Elections has been issued due to security reasons.

On 4th September, ELD announced that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has convened Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC), and the committee will review Singapore’s electoral boundaries ahead of the General Elections.

The formations of the EBRC is usually a sign that elections are looming. In 2006 and 2011, the EBRC took up to four months to complete its review before submitting its report. Generally, the process can take between 2-4 months before a report is submitted to the PM. The PM would then accept the report and sent it to Parliament. Any changes to the electoral map are then gazetted before it is made public.

Although there are no exact deadlines for when the election date should be announced after the EBRC report is made public, history tells us that it can take any time between one day to a month and 26 days. Whichever it is, the GE has to be held by April 2021.

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