Singapore — The Elections Department (ELD) has officially ruled out the possibility of online and mail-in voting for the coming General Election, as the nation gears up to possibly vote during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Last week, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat hinted that elections are coming nearer by the day. He asked the public to be prepared and said that calling an election early will help Singapore come together to tackle the crises ahead.
Asserting that “public health considerations and public safety will be a foremost consideration” when the GE is called, Mr Heng added: “Even the way in which elections are to be conducted will be different from before.”
Political analysts responding to the DPM’s remarks speculated that an election may be held as soon as July. While opposition parties have urged the Government to issue clear advisories on changes to campaigning rules, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing has said that it would be “premature” to announce election rules given the “evolving” Covid-19 situation.
Meanwhile, members of the public have been asking about what measures the Government will introduce to reduce the risk of virus transmission when the elections are held. Some have written to the newspapers and online media and suggested that the authorities could consider allowing the people to vote online or by mail so that they would not have to physically go to the polling stations and risk contracting the coronavirus.
Responding to these letters, the ELD has said that online and mail-in voting will not be implemented in the coming GE since such methods are not secure.
In a reply published in The Straits Times on Tuesday (June 2), the department’s Senior Assistant Director, Political Donations and Communications, Ms Tay Chai Luan, said:
“We have not implemented online voting as there is no way to confirm that the vote is cast by the person himself, and not by another person assisting him, even with SingPass. The system will also need to retain information on the voter’s choice, which may compromise voting secrecy.
“Similarly, for mail-in votes, we are unable to ascertain whether someone living at the same address has voted for another person in the household, thus compromising the principle of “one man, one vote”. There are also risks with security and secrecy of the vote as the ballot paper may be lost or tampered with during postal delivery.”
Ms Tay added that the health and safety of voters are of utmost importance and that the ELD will implement “necessary safety measures, taking into account prevailing public health advisories, if elections are to be held in the midst of Covid-19”.
Read the ELD’s letter in full HERE.