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PE 2023: Election Department issues reminder on regulations for online election advertising, surveys, and exit polls

As the 2023 Presidential Election enters its campaign period on 22 August, the Election Department (ELD) has reminded the public of regulations in the Presidential Elections Act, focusing on online election advertising, surveys, and exit polls.

Notably, three contenders—Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Ng Kok Song, and Tan Kin Lian—holding certificates of eligibility, gather at the People’s Association Headquarters for nomination on Tuesday morning.



SINGAPORE: As the 2023 Presidential Election enters its campaign period on 22 August the Election Department (ELD) has issued a reminder to the public regarding regulations and prohibitions outlined in the Presidential Elections Act.

The focus is on online election advertising (OEA), election surveys, and exit polls.

In a statement issued on Tuesday (22 Aug), ELD reminded that the publication of the results of an election survey, or any content purporting to be the results of an election survey, is not allowed during the election period, once the Writ of Election is issued.

Publication of Election Surveys and Exit Polls Banned

Election surveys, which gauge voter preferences and opinions, and exit polls, which offer forecasts on election outcomes, are both covered under this restriction.

ELD highlighted that since the Writ of Election was issued, the Elections Department has observed breaches of the ban on the publication of the results of an election survey on various online platforms. The appropriate enforcement action has been taken against these breaches.

“The public is reminded to abide by this ban. For example, the public should not create polls on social media platforms (e.g. Instagram, TikTok), online forums(e.g. Reddit), messaging services (e.g. WhatsApp, Telegram), or websites, where the results of the survey can be viewed, as this will be considered a breach. ”

Another example of a breach cited by ELD is posting or reposting the results of an election survey on the aforementioned platforms.

Similarly, the publication of the results of an exit poll is also not allowed during the election period.

An exit poll is any (a) statement on how voters have voted at the election, or (b) forecast on the result of the election, where the statement or forecast is (or might reasonably be taken to be) based on information from voters after they have voted.

Guidelines for Online Election Advertising by Candidates, Agents, and Authorized Individuals

Voters are also being reminded that the publishing of paid OEA is reserved for candidates, election agents, and authorised persons.

Those wishing to publish paid OEA must obtain written authorization from a candidate or election agent following Nomination Day.

These advertisements must be declared to the Returning Officer and adhere to “published-by” requirements.

Under the published-by requirements, all OEA, whether paid or unpaid, must
display clearly the full names of all persons who played an active role in publishing it.

This comprises persons (a) responsible for publishing the OEA, (b) who approved the content of the OEA, and (c) who directed that the OEA be published. In addition, paid OEA is required to include a message or statement to indicate that it has been sponsored or paid for and the full names of the persons who paid for it.

Meanwhile, Singapore Citizens can put up unpaid OEA on their own accord except during the Cooling-off Period.

This period spans from Cooling-off Day (31 August) at 12 am to the conclusion of polling on Polling Day (1 September) at 8 pm.

Cooling-off Period and Prohibition on Election Advertising

Election advertising by all parties, including both paid and unpaid OEA, is strictly disallowed during the Cooling-off Period.

Existing OEA published before this phase can remain provided no changes are made.

However, republishing existing OEA during Cooling-Off Day and Polling Day is regarded as introducing fresh content and is thus prohibited. Examples include sharing, resharing, reposting or boosting existing OEA.

Foreign Entities Prohibited from Online Election Advertising

Foreigners and foreign entities are expressly barred from participating in any election-related activities, including the publishing or displaying of election advertising, throughout the election period from the issuance of the Writ to Polling Day.

This comprehensive reminder from the Election Department underscores the importance of upholding election integrity, transparency, and fair practices within the context of Singapore’s democratic process.

“The outcome of Singapore’s elections must be for Singaporeans alone to decide,” ELD reiterated.

Forthcoming Presidential Election to take place on 1 September should a contest arise

Should a contest arise, Singaporeans are set to cast their votes on 1 September, with Nomination Day scheduled for the upcoming Tuesday (22 Aug).

All three contenders who have received a certificate of eligibility (COE) from the Presidential Elections Committee—Tharman Shanmugaratnam, the former senior minister at 66 years old; Ng Kok Song, the former GIC investment chief at 75; and Tan Kin Lian, the former NTUC Income chief at 75—have gathered at the People’s Association Headquarters for the nomination process, taking place on Tuesday.

Should multiple qualified candidates emerge, it will lead to a competitive election; otherwise, a walkover will transpire on Nomination Day.

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