POFMA Office issues correction direction over TikTok post claiming votes can be traced

SINGAPORE: The Minister in-charge of the Public Service, Mr. Chan Chun Sing, has directed the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) Office to issue a Correction Direction to TikTok user “dr.ishhaq.jay” and a Targeted Correction Direction to TikTok Pte. Ltd.

A Targeted Correction Direction is issued to an internet intermediary that has been used to communicate a falsehood. This direction mandates the intermediary to display a correction notice to all users in Singapore who encountered the falsehood on its platform.

The instruction from Mr Chan comes as a response to a TikTok video posted by the user on 17 July.

The Elections Department (ELD) has identified a misleading statement in the said TikTok video. The content of the video suggests that the Government has the capacity to trace individual voters’ choices in the polling booth and can subsequently penalize voters based on their vote.

The ELD refutes this claim, highlighting several important points:

  1. The Parliamentary Elections Act 1954 (PEA), including provisions from its predecessor acts, emphasizes the importance of vote secrecy. It’s paramount to understand that the Government, along with the ELD, has rigorously adhered to the policies and practices ensuring voting secrecy.
  2. The procedures set to ensure voting secrecy are stringent. All individuals, be it officers, clerks, interpreters, candidates, or agents present at polling stations or during the vote counting, must swear an oath of secrecy prior to their involvement.
  3. For votes recorded in person, the ballot papers follow a continuous chain of custody. They are transported from the polling stations to counting centers, then to the Supreme Court. After safe custody for six months, these ballot papers are destroyed, ensuring no tampering or misuse. This process is transparent and allows monitoring by election candidates and their representatives.
  4. The presence of a serial number on the ballot paper is to maintain the sanctity of the electoral procedure. This number aids in accounting for every ballot paper, acts against any fraudulent activity, and verifies voters as per the register.
  5. While the voter’s serial number is mentioned on the ballot paper counterfoil, this is only for potential vote tracing in situations like fraudulent voting allegations. The sealed votes can only be inspected upon an order from the General Division of the High Court and that too in very restricted circumstances. This ensures the vote remains secret unless there’s substantial evidence pointing towards a fraudulent act.

Therefore, it is said that the Government cannot trace who a voter has voted for, as it wishes.

This comes as Singapore looks forward to the nomination day for its presidential candidates on 22 August, with polling day set for 1 September if there are more than two contesting candidates.

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