SINGAPORE: The Elections Department (ELD) said on Saturday (Jul 18) that it will be conducting a survey to gather feedback from voters on their experience at polling stations.
ELD was responding to Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chairman Paul Tambyah's media release on Thursday calling for the department to reveal how many “irregular events” happened during the polling for the General Election.
He also called for an independent inquiry into the conduct of the election with a particular focus on issues such as the use of tendered ballot slips which he claimed were not counted in this election.
“This inquiry should be reviewed by all the political parties who took part in this election,” Dr Tambyah said.
On Polling Day on Jul 10, a presiding officer at a polling station had tried to register a woman, known only as Madam Lum, several times but failed.
Mdm Lum, a voter in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC which was contested by the SDP, was told that she had already voted when, in fact, the presiding officer was using the wrong module in the e-Registration system to process her registration.
She reportedly filled out a tendered ballot slip, which was not counted in the final result.
The People's Action Party (PAP) team won the four-member GRC with 66.36 per cent of the vote against the SDP team.
In response to the incident, ELD confirmed that Mdm Lum had been given a tendered ballot paper.
“As mentioned in ELD’s Handbooks for Polling Agents and Counting Agents, and as set out in the Parliamentary Elections Act, ‘tendered ballot papers’ are issued to persons who apply to cast their vote after the Presiding Officer has informed the voter that according to the register, he has already voted.
“In this instance, this was due to human error and we have since explained the situation and apologised to Mdm Lum,” ELD said.
READ: GE2020: Voters face 'longer than usual' queues at polling stations, younger people advised to stick to time bands
Dr Tambyah also listed other issues, including long queues at several counting stations, a change of instructions on the use of disposable gloves when voting and the “sudden and unexpected announcement” about the extension of polling hours.
“This election has been fraught with missteps, mistakes and misdirections,” he said.
In their reply, ELD thanked Dr Tambyah for his feedback and said it will be taken into consideration during its ongoing review to “understand why there were long queues at some polling stations on Polling Day”.
READ: GE2020: ELD apologises for polling station queues, says gloves requirement contributed to long wait times
It added that despite the issues at some polling stations, voter turnout was close to 96 per cent – higher than the 2015 and 2011 General Elections.
This “(reflected) the high level of confidence in the COVID-19 precautionary measures to protect the health and safety of voters, candidates and election officials, and voters were able to cast their votes in secret”, ELD said.
It added the survey aims to help the department “do better for future General Elections”.