SINGAPORE: COVID-19 patients and those in quarantine will not be able to vote in the 2020 General Election, but there will be a special voting hour for Singaporeans serving stay-home notices, the Elections Department (ELD) said on Wednesday (Jul 1).
As of Jun 30, about 350 people who have COVID-19 or are on a quarantine order will be affected, according to ELD. This is to minimise their contact with members of the public and reduce the risk of community transmission, it said.
For voters who are under stay-home notices at home, on medical leave or have a fever of 37.5 degrees Celsius and above, a special voting hour has been set aside for them from 7pm to 8pm.
“They should disregard, and not go to vote at the recommended time-band indicated on their poll cards,” said ELD. “If such voters show up at the polling stations during the regular voting hours from 8am to 7pm, they will be turned away and asked to return between 7pm and 8pm.”
Other conditions also apply: These voters cannot take public transport when going to the polling station and must return home immediately after voting, and those on stay-home notices must inform authorities before leaving their home to vote.
At that time, there will also be fewer election officials manning the polling stations and they will all don personal protective equipment. Polling equipment and contact surfaces will be sanitised after each voter and there will be no temperature screening during this time.
About 2.65 million Singaporeans are expected to head to the polls on Jul 10, and all 93 parliamentary seats are contested in this election.
SPECIAL POLLING STATIONS AT HOTELS
Voters who are well and not on stay-home notices who come at 7pm to 8pm will still be allowed to vote, but ELD advised all voters to try to turn up at times allotted to them, and to avoid the special voting hour.
ELD said that it recognises that due to exigencies, some voters who are well may need to vote between 7pm to 8pm.
"By law, they can still vote during this time. The necessary precautions have been taken at all polling stations to ensure the safety of voters during the special voting hour," it said.
"We will be able to manage the safe management measures well ... as we expect the crowd to be lower than that during the regular voting hours."
ELD earlier said that voters will get dedicated time-bands in which to cast their ballot and they should try to stick to their time-bands to avoid overcrowding. Polling starts from 8am and mornings will be reserved for seniors to vote, although one household member may accompany them if required.
READ: COVID-19: Recommended time-bands for voters to cast ballots among new safety measures for elections
For this election, voters will have access to e-poll cards on the SingPass mobile app in addition to physical poll cards. The e-poll card is already available online under the “Profile” tab in the SingPass app, said ELD.
The Elections Department on Wednesday also announced more details on special voting arrangements for those on stay-home notices at dedicated facilities like hotels.
Four special polling stations have been gazetted at Marina Bay Sands and one at Marriott South Beach. Voters serving their stay-home notices there will stay in their room and a mobile polling team will bring the ballot box to them.
People who are unable to vote because they are unwell can apply for their names to be restored to the Registers of Electors after the election without paying a S$50 penalty. For COVID-19 patients and those quarantined or on stay-home notices for COVID-19, their names will be restored automatically to the registers after the election without penalty.
READ: GE2020: Voting to proceed at overseas polling stations, subject to approval from local authorities: ELD
ELD also said on Monday that Singaporeans overseas can vote at 10 polling centres, subject to regulations there. Overseas polling stations will implement similar safety measures as those in Singapore, and have the special voting hour.
Singaporeans returning from overseas will have to serve a 14-day stay-home notice and those who are at hotels can vote there. For instance, voters in Malaysia can travel back to Singapore and vote while on stay-home notice.
"In order to ensure that we are able to optimise our limited resources, we do not set up an overseas polling station in a city or country where Singaporeans can travel back to Singapore to vote on Polling Day with relative ease," said ELD in response to CNA queries.
MACHINES FOR VOTE COUNTING
ELD said that for this election, a recount must be carried out in any ward where the difference in votes is 2 per cent or less. Previously, while this was allowed, a candidate or counting agent had to apply for the recount to take place.
New counting machines will also be introduced, as announced previously, but there will still be a manual count of the ballot papers.
Ballot papers will first be counted manually then bundled in pieces of 100. These bundles will then be verified using the counting machines to speed up the counting process, ELD said.
Each machine will also go through a pre-counting test to verify its accuracy. Candidates and their counting agents will be invited to witness this and the machine can only be used if it passes the test, said ELD.
This election, a slew of new measures have been announced to keep up with technological changes, as well as to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Other measures include contactless e-registration, self-inking pens and other coronavirus safety precautions.