SINGAPORE: Singaporeans placed on the non-voter list for future elections will be individually informed to verify their status and restore their names to the Registers of Electors.
They will be informed via mail and through the Singpass in-app message service Notify, Education Minister and Minister-in-charge of the Public Service Chan Chun Sing said in a written parliamentary reply on Monday (Sep 18).
Member of Parliament Ng Ling Ling (PAP-Ang Mo Kio) had asked if the Elections Department (ELD) would consider informing voters earlier if their names have been expunged from the registers, to confirm whether they had actually voted at the previous election and to apply for reinstatement as necessary.
She also asked if ELD would consider conducting random audit checks to ensure that the names in the registers are correctly updated.
In Singapore, voting in elections is compulsory for all who are eligible. All Singaporeans whose names are in the registers have to cast their ballots on Polling Day: Those who fail to do so will have their names included in a list of non-voters, and removed from the registers after the election. They can apply to have their names restored so that they will be eligible to vote in future elections.
Mr Chan said the move to individually inform ineligible voters would be on top of the usual public call by ELD to check on one’s status when the non-voter list is published for verification.
The vast majority of people did not turn up to vote because they were not in Singapore or were ill on Polling Day, he added.
About 32,000 voters checked and restored their names to the registers from October 2020 to Aug 11, when the Writ of Election for the Presidential Election was issued.
“Similar to previous exercises, there were very few who requested ELD to restore their names due to inaccuracy in the recording of their voting status in GE2020,” Mr Chan said. “As such, ELD did not suspect that there were significant inaccuracies in the recording.”
After the Writ was issued and up to Polling Day on Sep 1, 1,093 Singaporeans informed the ELD that they did not receive their poll card, despite voting in the 2020 General Election.
This was an increase from the 200 or so reported on Aug 24.
About 200 Singaporeans' names left out of voters' list for Presidential Election despite claims they voted in GE 2020
“ELD has investigated this and concluded that the most probable cause of error was that the NRIC details of these affected voters had not been captured properly by the electronic registration system, which was only introduced from GE2020,” said Mr Chan.
He explained that a voter’s NRIC and poll card are first checked by election officials at the registration counter before the NRIC is scanned to register the voter.
When it is scanned by the barcode reader, an alert or “beep” sound will be emitted and a digital screen will flash an “OK” button indicating that the voter data has been successfully captured in the system.
The official should then tap the button to return to the registration screen, so that the next voter’s NRIC can be scanned.
“If the NRIC of the next voter is scanned when the screen has not returned to the registration screen, the alert sound will still be emitted, as this indicates that the NRIC had been scanned. However, the record of this voter would not have been captured,” said Mr Chan.
“It is likely that in their effort to clear the queues at some polling stations, some election officials might have missed out this step. As a result, the registration of the affected voters was not captured.”
A new electronic registration system, with a simplified process, was introduced for the Presidential Election. This does not require officials to press any button to return to the registration screen to register the next voter.
The issue of registration not being captured because of not pressing a button would therefore not arise, he added.
Other issues that arose during the presidential contest – Singapore’s first since 2011 – included technical issues on polling day and voters receiving two poll cards in the mail.
“Based on ELD’s preliminary investigations, there was a 30 per cent average loss in device connectivity in the first hour of polling and this reduced to 16 per cent by 10am,” said Mr Chan, adding that there was no evidence that it was caused by cyberattacks.
“Instead, this could have been partly contributed by the surge in the volume of transactions during the morning peak, when about 52 per cent of the total number of voters had already voted in the first four hours, compared to 32 per cent in GE2020.”
ELD also apologised on Aug 24 after almost 10,000 voters in Tanjong Pagar GRC received two poll cards due to a printer’s error.
The department on Monday said it would implement new measures to prevent a repeat of such mistakes.
This includes requiring the printer to tighten its internal quality assurance processes to ensure that test print poll cards are not mailed out.
Singaporeans voted for the country’s ninth president on Sep 1, with former Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam winning in a landslide victory with 70 per cent of the vote.