Empty ballot boxes found in school do not constitute lapse in election process
- POSTED: 16 Sep 2013 17:13
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Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing said the discovery of empty ballot boxes used for the 2011 Presidential Election did not constitute a lapse in the election process.
SINGAPORE: Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing said the discovery of empty ballot boxes used for the 2011 Presidential Election did not constitute a lapse in the election process.
He stressed that there was a rigorous process to ensure the security of the vote and voting secrecy at each election.
Mr Chan said there was also no break of the chain of custody of ballot papers from the polling station to the counting centre and from the counting centre to the Supreme Court where the ballot papers are maintained for safe custody for six months and then destroyed.
Replying on behalf of the Prime Minister, Mr Chan said he has directed the Elections Department to look into ways to ensure that such an incident can be prevented in future to avoid undue alarm or confusion.
Mr Chan was replying in Parliament on Monday to a question filed by Aljunied GRC MP Pritam Singh on the recent discovery of boxes which were not properly disposed.
Last month, used ballot boxes were found in a school in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC. The school had served as a counting centre for the 2011 Presidential Election.
Mr Chan stressed that the fact that some boxes were found clearly suggested an oversight by working personnel involved in the collection of discarded material after polling.
He explained: "The entire process is controlled and carefully watched from the beginning of the polls until the boxes are emptied out and once the boxes are emptied out the boxes cease to be called election boxes. They would be known as discarded boxes."
These boxes would be collected by the appointed contractor by the Elections Department for disposal.
Mr Chan said after polling closes, ballot papers are transferred from ballot boxes into a different set of boxes. From that point on, the empty boxes become discarded boxes.
He also explained in detail the differences between controlled and non-controlled items used in the elections process by the Elections Department.
"In this particular case, the emptied, disused boxes are non-controlled items. For the Elections Department, the priority is to ensure that all controlled items, for example ballot papers are properly accounted and this we have done so over the course of the election," said Mr Chan.
He said the Elections Department has once again checked all 164 schools which were used as Counting Centres for the elections.
The Department has also checked if there were still any other non-controlled items used by the schools and still in their stores.
Mr Chan said following the checks, several disused boxes were found in five schools which were used as counting centres.
He added that investigations by the Police so far show that there is no offence related to the tampering of the ballot boxes before and while in use.