I am alarmed by the news report on the glitch causing ballot boxes to be reopened. The glitch puts in place questions on the secrecy and the handling of votes. It is an issue which requires attention and retification since it has occurred both, in 1980 and 1997.
The authorities need to explain how and why it occurred, the personnel involved, and how the secrecy of those voters whose ballot papers are sealed in both boxes will be protected.
This incident also questions the eligibility of voting. The Elections Department must explain why Singaporeans who did not vote for current or previous elections will have their names struck off the electoral list for future elections.
Glitch causes ballot boxes to be reopened
Thursday • June 29, 2006
BALLOT boxes from two polling districts in Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC) have to be re-opened, as the name lists of people who voted in the May 6 General Election (GE) were mistakenly sealed along with their counted ballot papers, the Elections Department said in a press statement yesterday.
President S R Nathan has directed an Order for Returning Officer Tan Boon Huat to "retrieve only" the name lists of AJ24 and AJ25 polling district voters "for the purpose of preparing the lists of electors in these two polling districts who failed to vote at the General Election 2006".
All eligible voters are required to cast their ballots in Singapore.
The lists of non-voters "cannot be prepared", the press statement read, because the names of voters "were inadvertently placed together with the counted papers and other documents by the staff at the Xinghua Primary School counting centre in the ballot boxes and sealed therein".
According to the Jan 9 edition of the Government Gazette, AJ24 includes the area bound by Upper Serangoon Road and Hougang Avenue 3, while AJ25 includes the area bound by Hougang Avenue 1, Hougang Avenue 3 and Tampines Road.
Aljunied GRC was one of the hotspots in last month's GE. The five-man People's Action Party (PAP) team led by Foreign Minister George Yeo won 56.09 per cent of the vote against the Workers' Party (WP) team.
The Elections Department said this was not the first time that ballot boxes — which are kept in the vault of the Supreme Court for six months after the polling day — have had to be unsealed. Similar instances have occurred in 1980 and 1997.
When told about the unsealing of the ballot boxes, 28-year-old unemployed Aljunied voter Mark Lim said he felt "uncomfortable", citing the serial numbers that were printed on the ballot papers.
Non-Constituency Member of Parliament and WP chairman Sylvia Lim, who led a team against the PAP in Aljunied, would only say: "I would like to reserve comment until I find out more about this."
PAP Member of Parliament for Aljunied Zainul Abidin Rasheed said: "To me, it sounds like a technical matter and I would leave it to the Elections Department to resolve."
The Elections Department said that the lists of non-voters in polling districts AJ24 and AJ25 will be published for inspection on or after Nov 6. The lists from other polling districts are now available for inspection at the Elections Department and designated community centres and clubs.
Those who failed to vote at the last General Election can apply to restore their name on the Registers of Electors with the Elections Department.
Visit www.elections.gov.sg for more information.
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