30,000 public servants to be trained as election officers

SINGAPORE - About 30,000 public servants will be called up for training as election officers, the Elections Department (ELD) said on Friday.

Those identified will be required to complete online modules before attending classroom sessions at a later date. They will be trained in election procedures, set-up and management of election premises and how to provide assistance to voters.

The public servants come from various ministries, organs of state and statutory boards. The organisations from which those who have already been called up include the ministries of Communications and Information, Environment and Water Resources, Education and Finance, and Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Officials are assigned one of several roles, mainly as assistant returning officers, presiding officers and counting assistants. There is only one returning officer - who oversees the conduct of the polls and heads the thousands of officials who run polling stations and count ballots. The current returning officer is veteran civil servant Ng Wai Choong, who was appointed last year.

An ELD spokesman said the department "selects and trains public officers on an ongoing basis".

For the 2006 and 2011 general elections, public servants were called up for training about 18 months and 31 months respectively before the polls were held. Prior to these two elections, the appointment and training of officials began only after the President issued a Writ of Election, the legal document that sets the election process in motion.

The authorities had said at the time that the change came about to better equip and prepare officials for the conduct of elections. The next polls are due by January 2017 at the latest.

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