Enhanced voting arrangements announced for upcoming Singapore presidential election

Enhanced voting arrangements announced for upcoming Singapore presidential election

The Elections Department (ELD) announced a series of improvements in voting arrangements for the upcoming presidential election, including more polling stations, a new stamp for voters, and easier access to queue status at polling stations.

Drawing on lessons learned from the 2020 General Election, the ELD is planning to make voting more efficient and user-friendly.

Among these changes is the introduction of a new X-stamp, which is broader and more clearly intended to be used as a stamp. The usage of this stamp is optional, and voters are free to bring their own pens.

The number of polling stations will increase to 1,264 from 1,097 in the 2020 election, which means fewer voters per station— an average of 2,150 compared to 2,400 previously.

In addition, more registration counters and ballot paper counters will be installed to minimize voter waiting time. Approximately 36,000 election officials will be deployed, a rise of about 20 percent from the previous count of 30,000.

The ELD is also simplifying the process to check the queue status at polling stations. Unlike in 2020 when voters had to remember and manually input the VoteQ website URL, they can now access it via a hyperlink on their ePoll card in the Singpass app or by scanning the QR code on their physical poll card.

Currently, three presidential candidates are in the running—former senior minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, entrepreneur George Goh, and former GIC investment chief Ng Kok Song.

Speculation suggests a possible two-corner fight between two preferred candidates of the People’s Action Party based on comments from former Temasek CEO Ho Ching and candidate Ng Kok Song.

The ELD previously announced the introduction of postal voting for the forthcoming election. Following a successful trial with approximately 160 overseas Singaporeans, the department has implemented a system where voters can register for postal voting and print their postal ballot papers via the ELD’s website.

However, some issues emerged during the trial, such as some return envelopes not bearing a necessary postmark, prolonged delivery times from certain regions or countries, and difficulties with signature verification by the Signature Scanning and Verification System (SSVS) machine.

The ELD has advised postal voters in specific regions, including Middle Eastern countries like Israel and Saudi Arabia, Oceania countries such as Australia and New Zealand, Southeast Asian countries like Cambodia and Indonesia, and others like Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Ghana, India, South Korea, and Taiwan, to consider affixing postal stamps on their return envelopes to ensure postmarks.

Overseas Singaporeans opting for postal voting must ensure that their return envelopes with marked postal ballot papers reach the returning officer no later than 10 days after Polling Day.

The ELD has established a system to authenticate each return envelope and verify signatures. Postal ballots will be mixed with those cast at overseas polling stations before counting.

Registration for overseas voting is currently open, and Singaporeans living abroad can register for voting and choose to vote by post or in-person at an overseas polling station.

To be eligible for overseas voting, overseas Singaporeans must meet the residency requirement of having resided in Singapore for an aggregate of at least 30 days in the last three years.

The upcoming election will see changes aimed at making the voting process more streamlined and efficient, which the ELD hopes will lead to an increased voter turnout and smoother election-day operations.

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