A first this time: Official sample count of poll results

Election officials pouring slips from a ballot box at a counting centre in 2011. PHOTO: ST FILE

The Elections Department will provide a sample count which will give an early indication of the possible result for each electoral division for next Friday's general election.

It will make public the results of a sample count for each of the 16 group representation constituencies (GRCs) and 13 single-member constituencies (SMCs), from as early as 10pm on Polling Day. This is a first in an election here.

Returning Officer Ng Wai Choong hoped it "will help prevent unnecessary speculation and reliance on unofficial sources of information" while counting is still under way and before the results are announced.

The sample results will be derived from a count of 100 ballot papers from each polling station within a constituency, soon after voting ends at 8pm. There are 832 polling stations islandwide.

People awaiting the results will get a sense of how voting panned out from as early as 10pm, instead of past midnight - except in close contests. The Elections Department stressed that the sample count results are not final, and advised people to wait for the Returning Officer's announcement.

Sample counts were done in previous polls, but were used as an internal check and not made public.

The Straits Times understands that the sample counts were found to have a confidence level of 95 per cent, plus or minus 4 percentage points. Experts said this means it is still likely that a sample count result of 55 per cent to 45 per cent could swing in favour of the latter candidate. But the chance of this is less likely than a sample count result of, say, 51 per cent to 49 per cent.

National University of Singapore economist Davin Chor, who has studied voting patterns, said having sample counts is "in the right direction of introducing greater transparency in how the vote count is conducted".

SEE GE2015

What it should have been

Published on 04.09.2015

Yesterday's report, "A first this time: Official sample count of poll results", said the Elections Department will release an official prediction of results for all constituencies well before all votes are counted in next Friday's general election. This is incorrect. The Elections Department's sample count will help provide an early indication of the possible result for each electoral division.

We are sorry for the error.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 03, 2015, with the headline A first this time: Official sample count of poll results. Subscribe