Processes tightened to account for all used, empty ballot boxes

The Elections Department (ELD) has reviewed and tightened its work processes to ensure that all used and empty ballot boxes are accounted for and included in the disposal of other debris and discarded items after every election, said Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing in Parliament on Monday.

The move by ELD follows two students' discovery of empty ballot boxes used in the 2011 Presidential Election in a school storeroom last August.

Mr Chan, who was replying on behalf of the Prime Minister to Mr Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC), stressed that the discovery of the boxes have "no implications on the secrecy of the vote or the integrity of the election process".

The boxes discovered by the two students last August, while not disposed of properly, were used and emptied ballot boxes, said Mr Chan.

Repeating an explanation he had also given to Mr Singh in Parliament last September, Mr Chan said that when such boxes are being used to contain ballots, with proper seals, "they should and are indeed accounted as controlled items".

"When such boxes are not in use with no proper seal, they are not controlled items and we do not need to classify them as such," added Mr Chan.

Police said in a statement last month that the two students who found and removed the ballot boxes have been counselled and issued advisories.

The incident sparked an exchange of letters in The Straits Times Forum last month between presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock and ELD over the practice of placing all counted ballots into new boxes at the counting centre for transportation to the Supreme Court for safekeeping. Dr Tan called for the process to be made more explicit and transparent.