SINGAPORE — A total of 1,093 Singaporeans had informed the Elections Department Singapore (ELD) during the 2023 Presidential Election (PE) that their names were not reflected in voter rolls, even though they had last voted in the 2020 General Election (GE).
This is an increase from what was stated in ELD’s previous press release on Aug 24, which revealed that 200 Singaporeans were wrongly struck off from the registers of electors and had informed the department about it following the issuance of the Writ of Election on Aug 11.
Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister-in-charge of the Public Service, said in Parliament on Tuesday (Sept 19) that the errors likely came about because some election officials missed a step when using the electronic registration system to capture the National Registration Identity Card (NRIC) details of these voters on Polling Day in 2020.
Mr Chan, who is also Minister of Education, said that these errors were due to the officials’ efforts to “clear the queues at some polling stations quickly in GE 2020”.
Mr Chan was responding to three parliamentary questions filed by Dr Tan Wu Meng, Member of Parliament for Jurong Group Representation Constituency (GRC); Mr Pritam Singh, MP for Aljunied GRC; and Sengkang GRC MP He Ting Ru.
They asked about the steps that ELD will take to prevent the error from happening again.
All 1,093 names have been restored to the registers, and ELD is working on sending notifications to those on the non-voter list for PE 2023 to verify their status, Mr Chan said in response to a supplementary question by Mr Singh, who heads the Workers’ Party.
The non-voter list contains the names of eligible voters who had failed to cast their votes and have been removed from the registers of electors, and they will lose their eligibility to vote or stand as a candidate at future elections if their names are not restored to the registers.
Mr Chan added that errors are inevitable, but ELD will endeavour to minimise them.
“I just want to assure the public that ELD has gone through the records, and while there is a margin of error, (it) is nowhere to the extent that you will call into question any of the election results that we have in recent memory.”
HOW THE ERROR CAME ABOUT
As to how the mistake was made, Mr Chan said that election officials were supposed to click an “OK” button after voters scan their NRIC using barcode readers, which will then emit a beep.
“It is likely that in their effort to clear the queues at some polling stations quickly in GE 2020, some election officials might have missed out on this step.”
That meant that the next voter who scanned an NRIC will hear a beep, but the record of this voter would not have been captured, he added.
Mr Chan said that the electronic registration system used in the recent PE 2023 adopted a “simplified process”.
“The election officials (for PE 2023) need not press any button to return to the registration screen to register the next voter. Therefore, the issue of non-captured registrations as a result of not pressing a button will no longer arise.”
TECHNICAL ISSUES DURING PE 2023
Responding to a question by Jurong GRC MP Tan Wu Meng about the technical glitches at polling booths during this year’s presidential poll, Mr Chan said that there was a 30 per cent average loss in the connectivity of the registration devices in the first hour of polling, which was later reduced to 16 per cent by 10am.
There was no evidence that the problem was caused by cyber-attacks, Mr Chan said.
These technical glitches led to a “queue build-up” at some polling stations across the island on Sept 1 morning, the ELD said at the time.
Explaining how this happened, Mr Chan said on Tuesday that the connectivity loss could have been partly contributed by the surge in the volume of transactions during the morning peak.
About 52 per cent of the votes were cast in the first four hours after polling booths opened at 8am, compared with around 32 per cent of votes cast in that same period during GE 2020.