GE2015: First time Polling Day falls on a Friday, but not first time polls held on a weekday

Counting assistants pouring out a ballot box on Polling Day in 2011. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Polling Day in the coming General Election will be on Sept 11, a Friday.

That has come as a surprise to many because Singaporeans have traditionally gone to the polls on a Saturday.

Only at three GEs since independence in 1965 has Polling Day not fallen on a Saturday.

This happened in the 1976 poll when people went to the ballot box on Dec 23, a Thursday. Then in 1980, the GE was held on Dec 23, a Tuesday. And in 1997, Polling Day on Jan 2 fell on a Thursday.

Even in the three elections before independence in 1965, when Parliament was known as the Legislative Assembly, people cast their votes on Saturdays.

This year's election - Singapore's 12th since independence - will also be the first time that a weekday date at the polls has not fallen during the year-end festive period.


The 1976, 1980 and 1997 dates were all either around Christmas and the new year.

In fact, calling a general election during the Christmas period used to be popular.

Three consecutive elections were held during the year's end - in 1976, 1980 and 1984.

One theory was that people would be in a good mood at that time of the year.

"The stress levels among Singaporeans are lower during year-end, which puts them in a good position to deal with weighty issues the GE might throw up," Singapore Management University law don Eugene Tan told The Straits Times in May.

While Polling Day this year is in September, the feel-good factor from Golden Jubilee celebrations on Aug 7 to 10 could carry over, some say.

The September date also ends the streak of two consecutive Polling Days in May. Singaporeans took to the polls on May 6 in 2006, and on May 7 in 2011.

Interestingly, that was the only time, apart from the hat-trick of December dates mentioned earlier, that successive GEs were held in the same month of the year.

Sept 11 is known to many as the day terrorist attacks by the Al-Qaeda brought down the World Trade Center in New York and damaged the Pentagon in 2001. Associate Professor Alan Chong of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University speculated that the date could provide a backdrop for the ruling People's Action Party to remind the electorate of global danger, and to vote wisely.

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