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GE 2020: A Guide For First-Time Voters And What To Expect On Polling Day

PM Lee Hsien Loong has already mentioned that the upcoming general election (GE) will not be a “normal election.”

He explained that since this election will be held in the midst of COVID-19, precautions have to be in place to ensure that voters can vote safely, and political parties can campaign effectively.

While the upcoming GE is definitely different from previous years, here’s a handy guide for voters (especially first-timers) so they know what to roughly expect when Polling Day comes around on July 10.

Are You Eligible To Vote?

Voting is compulsory in Singapore; all Singapore citizens whose names are in the Registers of Electors must cast their votes on Polling Day.

According to the Elections Department Singapore (ELD), you are eligible to vote if you are:

  • A Singapore citizen
  • At least 21 years of age (before 1 March 2020)
  • Not disqualified from being an elector under any prevailing law
  • Have a registered Singapore address on NRIC, or have a registered Local Contact Address if residing overseas

You can check your eligibility to vote on the ELD website using your SingPass, at community centres/clubs or ELD office with your NRIC or passport, or call ELD’s hotline at 1800 225 5353.

If you are residing overseas, you can check your eligibility at Singapore overseas missions that serve as overseas polling stations with your NRIC or passport.

Permanent residents are not eligible to vote in Singapore.

Must You Vote If You Are Working On Polling Day?

Polling Day for a general election or presidential election is a public holiday.

Under the law, all employers must give employees who are qualified electors a reasonable period of time for voting.

Affected employees are advised to promptly inform their employers if they need to request for time-off so that appropriate work arrangements can be made to cover their duties when they are away.

What Are Some Valid Reasons For Not Voting?

Some valid reasons for not voting are:

  • Working overseas (including being on a business trip) on Polling Day
  • Studying overseas at the time of the poll
  • Living with your spouse who is working or studying overseas
  • Overseas vacation which was planned before the poll
  • Illness or childbirth.

If you have a valid reason for not voting, ELD will restore your name to the Registers free of charge when you submit an online application using your SingPass. Otherwise, an administrative fee of S$50 will be levied.

There is no need to enclose documentary proof at the point of submitting the application. These supporting documents will only be needed upon request by ELD.

When And Where Will You Get Your Poll Card?

You will receive your poll card through the mail at your latest residential address registered with the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) two to three working days (subject to postal operator delays) after Nomination Day.

If you still do not receive your poll card before Polling Day, you may view/print your ePoll card at ELD’s Voter Services with your SingPass.

Alternatively, you may seek over-the-counter assistance at the Elections Department to print your ePoll card.

You can also digitally access your ePoll card via the SingPass mobile app and use it in lieu of the hard copy poll card.

How To Know Which Constituency You’re In?

You can check on your electoral division using your postal code on ELD’s website.

Screenshot from ELD

To know who is contesting where, you can check out Vulcan Post’s GE 2020 microsite to take a look at the election battle map and find out which are the hotly-contested areas.

Where And What Time Can You Vote?

Polling stations will be open from 8am to 8pm on July 10. Unlike past elections, each voter is now allocated a two-hour window in which he is encouraged to head to his polling station.

This will be indicated on the poll card and is meant to spread out voters across the polling hours due to the coronavirus pandemic.

ELD has also created a website that tells voters where their polling booths are and what time they can vote.

Once you’ve logged on to the website, you can simply key in your NRIC number and it will tell you your electoral division, polling station, and the recommended two-hour voting time slot.

On Polling Day, you can also log on to the website to check the queue status at your polling station to avoid crowding.

How Is The Voting Process Like?

image Credit: ELD

Before heading to the polling station, remember to bring your original NRIC or passport, as well as your poll card.

Unlike previous years, GE 2020 will make use of an electronic registration system so voters can simply scan their NRICs to register. As the registration system records the time you enter the polling station, there is no need for you to check-in via SafeEntry.

After registering, you would need to collect your ballot paper. This is also where you would need to sanitise your hands and put on a pair of disposable gloves to minimise any risk of contamination.

Once you enter the polling booth, you would have to mark your choice on the ballot paper using the self-inking pen, another new feature of GE 2020.

The self-inking pen will stamp a cross — this helps voters clearly mark their choice and hopefully help to reduce invalid votes. It is also very elderly-friendly as it requires minimal pressure to use.

However, with safety precautions in mind due to COVID-19, voters are allowed to use their own personal pen to mark their choice. Do note that drawing a tick instead of a cross may spoil your vote.

After dropping your vote in the ballot box, you can leave the polling station. The whole voting process is expected to take only five minutes, even with safety measures like sanitisation and safe distancing in place.

What Not To Do In A Polling Station?

When casting your vote, be sure to maintain voting secrecy and not show your ballot paper to anyone else in the polling station.

Also, if you leave any signature or make other identifying mark on your ballot paper, your vote will not be counted.

Here are other things you shouldn’t do at a polling station:

  • Do not bring your bag, pets (except guide dogs) or children to the polling station. Your pets and/or children will not be allowed access into the polling area, and your bag may be subjected to security checks at the entrance of the polling station.
  • Do not bring any document or material, or wear any attire or badge, which shows a political party’s or candidate’s symbol. The law prohibits canvassing and all forms of election activity on Polling Day, except voting.
  • Do not bring the ballot paper out of the polling station. This is an offence.
  • Do not bring or use any camera, video camera, alcohol, sharp objects, campaign material and large bags in the polling station.
  • Do not use your handphone in the polling station.

Do take note of these do’s and don’ts of voting, and remember to do your part as a citizen — voting is compulsory in Singapore!


Check out our GE 2020 microsite for the latest election-related news, find out which constituency you belong to, and who’s running where on the election battleground here.


Featured Image Credit: Wealth Mastery Singapore

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