SINGAPORE: Minister-in-charge of the Public Service Chan Chun Sing, in response to a query from Ms He Ting Ru, revealed on Wednesday that 267 postal ballot return envelopes for the Presidential Election 2023 were received after the stipulated deadline of 11 September 2023.
Of these, 83 were postmarked before 1 September.
The Workers’ Party Member of Parliament for Seng Kang GRC had posed several questions to the Prime Minister regarding: (a) The number of late-arriving postal ballots from overseas voters. (b) The count of those postmarked before 1 September 2023. (c) Whether the Election Department (ELD) would consider rerouting ballot delivery via embassies and consulates.
In his reply on behalf of the Prime Minister, Mr Chan detailed that for PE2023, the facility for overseas postal voters to download their postal ballot papers was made available from 23 August.
To be considered valid, the return envelope had to be postmarked on or before 31 August and should have reached the Returning Officer in Singapore by 11 September.
By the said deadline, ELD received 2,263 return envelopes out of the 3,432 registered overseas postal voters.
Addressing the proposal of having ballots delivered first to Singapore’s embassies or consulates, Mr Chan, also serving as the Education Minister, mentioned that the ELD would evaluate the idea.
However, he emphasized the potential challenges associated with such a method, including inconsistent postal delivery timings and concerns with faint or illegible postmarks.
Mr Chan concluded his response by urging postal voters to send their envelopes directly to Singapore well ahead of time to ensure their votes are counted.
Earlier on 23 August, ELD shared that of the more than 185,000 Singaporeans residing overseas, 6,649 have registered as overseas voters for the upcoming presidential election.
Notably, 3,432 of these voters have opted for postal voting, marking a first in Singapore’s electoral history.
This move is attributed to the amendments made to the Presidential Elections Act and the Parliamentary Elections Act in March this year.
The changes also stipulate that existing overseas voters need not re-register with every revision of the registers of electors ahead of an election. Their voting status is maintained unless they opt out or are removed from the registers.
These overseas voters constitute approximately 0.25% of the 2,709,407 voters registered for the forthcoming election.
ELD also informed postal voters that they can now download their postal ballot paper and return envelope from the ELD’s voter services portal on its website via the Singpass log-in.
Postal voters are encouraged to send their ballots back promptly. The ballot, marked within its envelope, should be postmarked before the Polling Day on 1 September and must be received by the Returning Officer in Singapore by 11 September.
Furthermore, voters designated to cast their votes at one of the ten overseas polling stations will receive an ePoll letter detailing the voting schedule for their specific location.
This letter can be accessed on the ELD’s website through Singpass. The overseas polling stations span major cities including Beijing, Canberra, Dubai, Hong Kong, London, New York, San Francisco, Shanghai, Tokyo, and Washington, DC.
For those overseas voters present in Singapore on Polling Day, ELD clarified that they can vote at their designated polling station in Singapore.
Details of this station will be provided on a physical poll card mailed to their registered address on their Singapore NRIC or their local contact address. This information is also available on their ePoll card on the Singpass app and the ELD website up to the polling day.
Upon reaching the polling station on 1 September, which is a public holiday, voters must confirm that they haven’t voted in this election before receiving their ballot paper.
ELD emphasized that each overseas voter is entitled to vote only once during an election, either overseas or at a designated polling station in Singapore.
Historically, there were 5,504 registered overseas voters during the 2011 presidential election. Of these, 3,375 cast their votes in nine cities across Australia, the United Kingdom, Japan, China, America, and the United Arab Emirates.
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