Experience of Polling Agents: Lack of protective gear given, untended booths and alleged use of phones by PAP polling agents

Citizens submissions poured in to The Online Citizen (TOC) about their experiences as alternative parties’ polling agents. 

Some of the notable concerns they raised were polling agents were not given any form of personal protective equipment (PPE), stations were left untended at times, and the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) polling agents allegedly using their mobile phones near the polling stations.

Lack of Protective Gear Given

One submission came from Jane who volunteered as a polling agent at a voting station located in Aljunied. 

As 7pm – 8pm was the time band allocated to those who were on stay-home notices, precautionary measures had to be taken for those on site. 

She said that “the polling station staff, janitorial staff and police officers stationed outside started putting on their PPE”. When Jane asked for PPE as well, the presiding officer (PO) said that polling agents did not need any as they were not interacting with voters. 

Jane however reminded the PO that the virus was airborne, but the PO replied that “if (she) gave (Jane),  then (she would) have to give all the agents”. 

However, availability of PPE did not seem to be the issue because “there were a lot of extra masks, face shields, and gowns in sight”.

“At least one full box of N95 and a pack of face shields,” she said.

Eventually, the polling agents were given N95 masks as the PO “realised how ridiculous it was that (they) were at the polling stations without any PPE,” Jane opined. 

Another citizen submission experienced the same thing at Pei Cai Secondary School when she represented the Workers’ Party (WP) as a polling agent. 

“We were not offered PPE, face shields or not even an N95 mask. Therefore we were told to leave the voting premises and sit in a classroom from 7pm – 8.30pm due to safety concerns.”

The third polling agent echoed the same encounter where they were not given PPE, and thus asked to leave and only return at 8pm. 

She was stationed at Jurong West at Juying Primary School.

Untended booths and use of phones by PAP polling agents

The polling agent at Pei Cai Secondary School also recounted that between 7pm – 8.30pm, there were no polling agents within the voting area, including PAP’s polling agents. 

She also alleged that PAP’s voting agents were using their mobile phones within the premises itself when these devices were strictly not allowed for all POs and polling agents during voting hours. 

“After informing a PO, all she did was inform them not to use their phones any further. (But) prior to that, we do not know what they did with their phones next to the list of serial numbers and names.” 

Safety measures not enforced by PO 

POs at the same school instructed the voters to move along in the queue without observing safe distancing of even 50m.

“During the busier time around 3pm – 5pm, I had to raise the concern of overcrowding to the PO in charge to slow things down or stop when necessary” instead of rushing the voters, she shared. 

Her final thoughts were “being seemingly efficient is more important than safety to the ELD managing team”.

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