Elections Department exploring special arrangements for those who find it tough to visit polling stations

Mr Chan Chun Sing observed that the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted two issues in Singapore's electoral landscape. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - The Elections Department (ELD) is exploring special voting arrangements for people who have difficulty visiting polling centres in person, such as nursing home residents and overseas Singaporeans.

From the middle of the year, it will carry out public engagements on the possibility of piloting such initiatives, said Minister-in-charge of the Public Service Chan Chun Sing on Thursday (March 3).

He was responding in Parliament to a question from Mr Melvin Yong (Radin Mas), who had asked if the arrangements made for voters serving their stay-home notice in hotels during the 2020 General Election could be extended to other groups in future.

In his reply, Mr Chan observed that the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted two issues in Singapore's electoral landscape.

First, that the electorate is ageing rapidly - with 21 per cent of registered voters aged 65 and above in 2020, compared with 14 per cent in 2011.

The number of overseas Singaporeans who registered to vote has also gone up, from 3,500 in 2011 to 6,500 in 2020.

ELD is thus looking at allowing some nursing home residents to cast their votes from where they live, similar to what was done for voters serving stay-home notices in hotels.

"With this in place, there will no longer be a need for nursing homes to bring their elderly voters staying with them to the polling stations to vote," said Mr Chan, who is also Education Minister.

He noted that overseas polling stations are set up for most Singaporeans living abroad. But for those who have difficulty travelling to such polling stations, ELD is exploring the possibility of postal voting.

However, the minister added that "voting by paper ballot at polling stations remains the most transparent and secure method of voting, that best ensures the integrity of the voting process and secrecy of votes".

The ELD will engage the general public and others involved in the process - such as political parties, nursing homes and overseas Singaporeans - on these proposals, he said.

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