Singapore — The Elections Department Singapore (ELD) has issued another apology about the long queues at polling stations on Polling Day last Friday (July 10).
The long queues led to voting being extended by two hours, something which has never happened in any previous election.
The ELD replied to a query from the Today publication on Monday (July 13) that it accepted that things did not pan out the way it expected on voting day.
“We acknowledge that the new measures we had put in place for Polling Day, to protect the health and safety of voters, candidates and election officials, had reduced the efficiency voters were used to in previous elections.”
The department added: “ELD will conduct a thorough review to understand what went wrong and why they happened, especially at some polling stations.”
ELD head Koh Siong Ling, in a reply to a letter published in the Forum page of The Straits Times, on Monday (July 13) said: “We have listened to the feedback of voters on Polling Day itself and since then, and would like to deeply apologise for the inconvenience caused, especially to our senior voters.”
This was the ELD’s third apology since the elections.
The first apology was issued at around 1.15 pm on Polling Day itself, when the ELD said in a statement: “More voters had turned up this morning than expected outside their assigned voting time-bands.”
“This, together with measures that had been put in place to ensure safe voting, had led to long queues,” it added.
Another apology was issued about three hours later at around 4 pm. This time, however, it shared that “the vast majority of polling stations” had considerable improvement and that there were only “20 voters in the queue for about 70 per cent of the polling stations”.
One main reason for the long queues was because voters were required to use disposable gloves when choosing to cast their ballots with the self-inking pens that were provided to lessen the risk of contamination since these pens were shared. The ELD eventually decided to do away with this requirement since it was taking up too much time and voters were still required to sanitise their hands before voting anyway.
At the same time, it still encouraged voters to use gloves along with hand sanisters if they wanted, as well as exercise proper distancing measures, as safety precautions against the spread of Covid-19.
Mr Koh also wrote in reply to the Forum letter: “We acknowledge that the new measures we had put in place for Polling Day to protect the health and safety of voters, candidates and election officials had reduced the efficiency voters were used to in previous elections.”
“We will definitely pay special attention to the needs of senior voters and make their voting experience a smooth and comfortable one. We thank the public once again for their patience and understanding,” he added. /TISG
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