SINGAPORE: A day ahead of Polling Day on Friday (Jul 10), 1,100 places across the country were being prepared to become polling stations.
With more than 2.65 million Singaporeans expected to head to the polls as the world currently battles the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s polling station setup is markedly different.
At the 535 Bukit Panjang Ring Road polling station on Thursday, election officials were seen putting up safe-distancing stickers, preparing bottles of hand sanitiser and rehearsing temperature taking procedures in anticipation of the 1,670 voters expected to go through their station.
They also simulated the queuing up of voters as well as the registration and hand sanitisation process.
Presiding Officer Ramli Abdul Razak noted that there is a “vast difference” between this election and the previous one in 2015, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“(Although) training started two years ago, it was stepped up after the writ was issued. (Election officials) have had to familiarise ourselves with the new precautionary measures put in place, such as the wearing of gloves and masks … to keep (the) general election safe,” he said.
Mr Ramli and other election officials also had to go through e-learning courses to prepare for the new safety measures that would be in place on Friday.
The 60-year-old, who was a counting assistant during the previous general election, added that he was proud to be able to do his part in "helping people feel safe" when they come to vote.
Election officials will be on duty from the time polling stations open at 8am to the time polls close at 8pm. They will be equipped with protective gear such as surgical masks, disposable gloves, face shields and pocket-sized hand sanitisers.
THE VOTING PROCESS
When voters arrive at one of the 1,100 polling stations, they will first undergo temperature screening.
Those with a fever of 37.5 degrees Celsius and above will be asked to vote during a special voting hour of 7pm to 8pm. Those on stay-home notices also have to vote at this time.
The use of an e-Registration system to verify voters against the electoral roll at polling stations eliminates the need for election officials to come into physical contact with them.
Voters must wear a face mask at all times and should lower them only when election officials need to verify their identity.
To minimise the risk of contaminating the self-inking “X” pen that will be used by other voters, or the ballot papers that counting assistants will handle, voters will need to sanitise their hands and wear disposable gloves before receiving their ballot cards and entering the polling booth.
After dropping off their ballot paper into the polling box, voters can dispose of their gloves in designated trash bins outside the polling station.
Dedicated cleaners will also be deployed at all polling stations to ensure a high level of hygiene and cleaning frequency during polling hours.
They will clean common touch-points such as polling booths and the self-inking “X” pens within the polling area at least once every half hour.
After polls close, cleaners will thoroughly disinfect the polling stations.
Polling stations open at 8am on Friday and will close at 8pm.