Thorough review by Singapore Elections Department of what went wrong on polling day

The queue of voters at Dunearn Secondary School polling station in Singapore around 1.40pm on July 10, 2020. — TODAY pic
The queue of voters at Dunearn Secondary School polling station in Singapore around 1.40pm on July 10, 2020. — TODAY pic

SINGAPORE, July 14 — The Elections Department Singapore (ELD) will conduct a “thorough review” of what went wrong on polling day, after feedback from the public about the long queues last Friday that resulted in polling stations closing two hours later, which has never happened before.

In a reply to TODAY yesterday, ELD said it recognised that the procedures for polling day on July 10 were not ideal.

“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.

“ELD will conduct a thorough review to understand what went wrong and why they happened, especially at some polling stations.”

TODAY had asked if there was an uneven distribution of polling stations which resulted in long queues at some stations, and whether the Covid-19 situation had affected the training of polling officers and volunteers.

In its statement, ELD also said that it would like to “deeply apologise” for causing inconvenience, especially to senior voters.

This was its third apology regarding the queues.

In its first apology at about 1.15pm last Friday, it said that more voters than expected had turned up in the morning outside the voting time bands assigned to them, and that this, together with the new measures, had caused long queues to form.

Three hours later, it issued another statement containing a second apology, updating that the queue situation at a majority of polling stations had improved considerably by 4pm and there were fewer than 20 voters at about 70 per cent of the stations.

On polling day, long queues of voters were seen at some places after polling stations were opened at 8am. They were supposed to close at 8pm but had to be extended to 10pm so that more voters could cast their votes.

By mid-day, ELD had to do away with a requirement for voters to wear disposable gloves meant to minimise the risk of contaminating the self-inking “X” pen shared among users. It said that the putting on of gloves contributed to “longer than usual” voting times.

The number of counters for registration and the issuance of ballot papers was also increased to cope with the queues.

At around 6pm, long queues were still being seen at several polling stations, and voters had about an hour before the 7pm time band originally allotted for those who had a fever or respiratory symptoms, or were on stay-home notice due to Covid-19 regulations.

After the election results were finalised, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at a press conference that there would be a thorough review of the processes. He said that the turnout of voters for the GE this year was higher than the last one in 2015. — TODAY

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