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Coming elections to use e-registration and ballot counting machines

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In a news release on November 22, Thursday, the Elections Department (ELD) announced that mechanical counting machines will be used for Singapore’s next elections, for the purpose of hastening the process of counting ballots as well as improving efficiency.

These machines are similar to those used by firms which “need to handle and count banknotes,” and that they would be “stand-alone mechanical counting machines,” unconnected to the Internet.

The ELD clarified that these machines are not electronic voting machines and that “hard copy paper-based Ballot Papers will continue to be used at the election.”

Furthermore, the present system of “sorting, stacking and adjudication of votes” will still be in use, despite the utilization of the new machines. But an additional step will be implemented with a counting assistant with sorted ballots counting 100 ballot papers with the machine, and then giving the pile to another assistant for it to be verified at another machine.

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The ELD said, “Accuracy checks of the counting machines will be conducted before the commencement of count at the counting centers. Candidates and their appointed counting assistants present at the counting centers will be invited to witness the conduct of these accuracy checks.”

The ELD will conduct roadshows in order to educate people on how to e-registration for the next elections. Electronic registration is set to begin as well, in order to decrease waiting time for voters when they are at polling stations. The ELD described it as akin to having your ID card scanned for polyclinic visits.

An e-version of the Polling Station Register is to be installed in devices for e-Registration at polling stations, unconnected to any wi-fi networks as to ensure protection from cyber attacks.

The ELD said, To assure voters of the integrity and secrecy of the voting process, the new process allows registered voters to approach any available counter within the polling station to receive a ballot paper and to deposit their marked ballot papers into any available ballot box of their choice.

The polling station layout will be redesigned to separate the voters’ registration and ballot papers issuance processes.”

PM Lee has hinted that the next elections could be held as early as next year.

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