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President orders sealed GE2020 ballot box to be opened to retrieve document 'inadvertently' placed inside

President orders sealed GE2020 ballot box to be opened to retrieve document 'inadvertently' placed inside

File photo of a voting booth in Singapore. (File photo: TODAY)

SINGAPORE: President Halimah Yacob has ordered the opening of a sealed box from July's 2020 General Election, so that a document that was "accidentally sealed" inside can be retrieved.

The document is a copy of the register of voters for polling district PN23 of Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC.

In a press release on Monday (Oct 5), the Elections Department (ELD) said an election official at the counting centre in Elias Park Primary School had "inadvertently" placed the document into the ballot box that contained counted ballot papers and other documents.

In response to CNA's queries, ELD said it ascertained this after checking with the election official for polling district PN23 when the register was not returned.

The ballot box is now sealed and kept in the Supreme Court vault.

The document in question, which is a list of the eligible voters in that electoral division who cast their ballots on Jul 10, is needed to indicate the registered electors who did not vote that day.

DOCUMENT TO BE RETRIEVED ON OR AFTER JAN 10, 2021

Under the Parliamentary Elections Act, sealed ballot boxes must be kept in safe custody for six months after the poll and can only be opened during this period "for the purpose of instituting or maintaining a prosecution or an application to invalidate an election".

According to ELD, Mdm Halimah has directed the Returning Officer to retrieve the copy of the register of voters on or after Jan 10, 2021. ELD added that the register has to be retrieved before the ballot boxes are destroyed.

"The President has also directed that the copy of the register of electors ... be destroyed by the Returning Officer not later than 30 days from the date of their retrieval," said ELD.

Under the Parliamentary Elections Act, all sealed ballot boxes must be kept in safe custody before they are destroyed at the end of six months after polling day, on Jan 10, 2021.

Candidates who contested in Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC will be invited to witness the retrieval process, said ELD in response to CNA's queries.

Three parties that had contested in Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC during the 2020 General Election are: the People's Action Party (PAP), Peoples Voice (PV) and the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA).

ELD added that the retrieval process has been done before.

NAMES OF NON-VOTERS REMOVED FROM REGISTERS OF ELECTORS

Eligible voters who do not vote are known as non-voters.

The delayed retrieval of the document in question means that the names of non-voters in polling district PN 23 of Pasir-Ris Punggol GRC will only be published later, said ELD.

The names of all other non-voters at the 2020 General Election are now available for inspection at the Elections Department, designated community centres or clubs, or Singapore overseas missions that serve as overseas registration centres, said ELD.

Singaporeans can also check their elector status on the ELD website or on the SingPass Mobile app.

Under Section 43 of the Parliamentary Elections Act, the names of non-voters have been removed from the registers of electors, said ELD. They will not be able to vote or stand as a candidate at future elections until their names are reinstated.

Non-voters at this year's election or previous elections may apply to have their names restored to the registers of electors if they wish to vote at future elections, said ELD.

It added that non-voters are encouraged to apply early as ELD will not be able to restore their names during the period from the date the Writ for an election is issued, until after Nomination Day if the election is not contested, or until after Polling Day if a poll is to be taken.

READ: GE2020: COVID-19 patients, quarantined cannot vote; special voting hour for those on stay-home notice

However, for non-voters who were subjected to a COVID-19 quarantine order or a requirement to not leave their residences due to a stay-home order on Jul 10, they are entitled to have their names restored to the relevant register of electors free.

"They need not apply to restore their names as the Registration Officer will be restoring these automatically," said ELD.

For non-voters who were given a medical certificate and required to not leave their place of residence on Jul 10, their names will also be restored on application without penalty.

Source: CNA/lk(ac)

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