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GE2020: As Cooling-off Day kicks in, here are the do’s and don’ts

GE2020: As Cooling-off Day kicks in, here are the do’s and don’ts

A man wearing a face mask walks past the Elections Department centre in Singapore on Jun 8, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: No campaigning activities will be allowed on Thursday (Jul 9), as Cooling-off Day kicks in after nine days of election campaigning.

The 24-hour campaign silence period falls on the eve of Polling Day, and aims to let "voters reflect rationally on various issues raised during the election campaigning period", before they head to the polls, said the Elections Department (ELD) in a press release on Wednesday (Jul 8).

Cooling-off Day was implemented for the first time during the 2011 General Election.

Here are the do's and don'ts on Cooling-off Day:

NO NEW ELECTION ADS

Knowingly publishing any new election advertising in any electoral division, or making changes to any existing election advertising, is prohibited on Thursday and Friday.

"Caution should also be exercised not to publish Internet election advertising close to midnight prior to Cooling-Off Day, which may result in the display of such advertising on Cooling-off Day itself," ELD said on Wednesday.

Political parties must not conduct programmatic advertising, such as using technology to automatically deliver online ads.

But reports in the newspapers, on radio and television, relating to election matters can be published, and the party political broadcasts on Thursday night can be aired.​​​​​​​ 

In response to queries from CNA Digital, ELD said that news outlets may continue to publish news reports that "do not amount to election advertising" on Cooling-off Day and Polling Day.

"All media are expected to play a responsible role by reporting accurately, with due care, and remain as a neutral medium for conveying news during the elections," said ELD.

Approved posters or banners lawfully displayed before Cooling-off Day can still be displayed, including those online. However, no changes should be made to them on Cooling-off Day or Polling Day.

The transmission of personal political views from one person to another on a non-commercial basis is permitted.

"For avoidance of doubt, participants of chat groups/channels or webinars involving more than two participants on platforms such as WhatsApp, Telegram and Zoom must not publish any election advertising in these mediums, and the moderators of these groups/channels or webinars are required to take all reasonable steps to remove any election advertising once they are aware of them," ELD said.

Another exception is the "distribution or promotion of the sale of any book if the book was scheduled for publication independent of the election and the book is not sold at less than its commercial value", it added.

NO CAMPAIGNING

There must also be no campaigning on Cooling-off Day.

Online campaigning, including by live-streaming, the uploading of recordings of such live streams, or the uploading or posting of any other election advertising on the Internet, is not allowed on Thursday and Friday. 

Walkabouts, canvassing of votes, distributing flyers physically or electronically, door-to-door visiting of homes and workplaces of voters, and using perambulating vehicles for campaigning are also banned.

People should also not wear, use, carry or display any political propaganda, such as a badge, symbol, rosette, set of colours, flag, advertisement, placard, poster or replica of a ballot slip.

But candidates can wear a badge indicating their affiliation with a political party or "replica of the symbol allotted to them". 

Polling agents, counting agents, and members of the public should refrain from wearing any apparel, including masks, bearing the image, election symbol or campaign message of any candidate on Thursday and Friday.

GE2020: Voters advised to take public transport, walk to polling stations

STATEMENTS ABOUT POLICE REPORTS AGAINST CANDIDATES

ELD also noted that public statements have been made in this General Election by people to draw attention to the fact that they have made police reports against candidates.

"Such statements can easily be regarded as intended to prejudice the electoral prospects of those candidates, thereby constituting election advertising," said the department.

"Accordingly, such public statements should not be made on Cooling-off Day and Polling Day."

AVOID CONDUCT THAT "MAY BE PERCEIVED AS CAMPAIGNING"

Candidates and their supporters are expected to abide fully by all relevant laws, and should refrain from any conduct "that goes against the spirit behind the prohibition against campaigning on Cooling-off Day and Polling Day", said ELD.

The department also advised candidates to exercise due care to avoid any action that may be perceived as campaigning.

"To avoid any misunderstanding, candidates should, as far as possible, refrain from visiting their constituents or attending public events on Cooling-off Day and Polling Day, where they are likely to attract public attention and may be perceived to be canvassing for support," said the advisory.

"At such events, candidates’ presence, actions, communications and exchanges (including private exchanges), are highly visible and may be perceived as campaigning."

While candidates may attend religious worship services, meetings, or attend to other matters in the course of work or employment, they would be subject to the general prohibitions against campaigning and election advertising, and the prevailing COVID-19 regulations and safe management measures.

ELD also reminded the public that the publication of election surveys and exit polls is prohibited before all polling stations close on Friday.

BOOKMARK THIS: Our comprehensive coverage of GE2020 and its developments

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Source: CNA/jt(mi)

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