Polling in GE2020 amid the COVID pandemic

A citizen asked the Elections Department (ELD) why special safety arrangements were not made for COVID-19 patients and Singaporeans on quarantine while these arrangements were set in place for those on stay-home notices (SHN). 

Posting on his Facebook page, Jerry Soong Wei Jie shared screenshots where he emailed the ELD on 2 July questioning the rule to completely exclude these 350 Singaporeans in those two groups. 

The ELD briefed the media on 1 July stating that those on SHN will have special arrangements. 

For voters on SHN at designated facilities such as hotels, a polling team will go from room to room, knock on their doors and deliver the ballot paper to the voters. The voters will cast their ballot within their own rooms. 

The voter will have to stand at least 1m inside the room, lower his mask momentarily for the polling team to verify his identity.

After which, the polling team will read aloud the electoral division, polling district and voter serial number before issuing the ballot paper to him. The voter will then mark it in private and drop it into the ballot box brought along by the polling team.

The same process goes for families in one room.

For those on SHN in their home, they will only be allowed to vote during the last hour of voting (before the ELD extended it to 10pm) from 7pm – 8pm. 

“Show us your thought process and outline the rationale (then) because inconvenience is not an excuse” Mr Soong asked about this double standard to bar patients and the quarantined from voting. 

He emphasised that “voting should be every citizen’s right” and they should not be excluded since nobody asked to contract the virus. 

“Just because one is at risk doesn’t negate that fact of one’s citizenship, or one’s ability to think and vote.” 

Tay Chai Luan, Senior Assistant Director in the Political Donations and Communications department, replied on 9 July stating it was to minimise the spread of the virus from COVID-9 patients and the quarantined after consulting with the Ministry of Health. 

Those on SHN however are persons arriving from overseas, and may not have the virus, the senior assistant director added. 

Mr Soong persisted with his enquiries that special safety arrangements still could have been made for those two high-risk groups at where they are held, and not why those individuals could not physically go to polling stations to vote. 

In the last reply from the ELD on 13 July, Chai Luan said they have considered various options and decided on the arrangements. 

Mr Soong called out this “impartiality of (the) elections authority” and basically addressed the root of this problem: How “dare (the government) call for elections during the COVID-19 pandemic” and not do the right thing to also cater to these citizens? 

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