UPDATE: The Elections Department has provided clarification on the proposed provisions of the Parliamentary Elections (COVID-19 Special Arrangements) Bill.
SINGAPORE — In the event that a general election is called during the COVID-19 crisis in Singapore, aspiring candidates will not need to be physically present at nomination proceedings if they are ill or subject to quarantine orders.
Voters who are on Stay Home Notice may also be allowed to vote from designated facilities.
These are part of contingency plans being prepped by the Elections Department (ELD) – the Parliamentary Elections (COVID-19 Special Arrangements) Bill was introduced in Parliament on Tuesday (7 April). It will allow ELD to implement temporary arrangements to ensure the safety of voters, candidates and election officials.
Speaking on behalf of the Prime Minister, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing told the House that the Bill would authorise temporary arrangements so that “certain electors who are subject to COVID-19 stay orders may vote outside of their electoral divisions, an aspiring candidate need not be present in person during nomination proceedings if ill, and special steps may be taken during a poll and vote counting in the interests of public health”.
In a statement, ELD elaborated on these special provisions:
Electors who are subject to COVID-19 stay orders to vote outside of their electoral divisions, such as the designated facilities at which they are staying. This ensures that voters on stay orders will not mingle with other voters while voting.
An aspiring candidate to authorise a representative to file his nomination paper on his behalf, if he is unable or unfit to do so because of a COVID- 19 quarantine order or stay order, hospitalisation or ill health. Currently, the Parliamentary Elections Act requires aspiring candidates to file nomination papers in person.
ELD stressed that the provisions in the Bill are temporary arrangements, and will only apply to the next GE – should it be held during the COVID-19 pandemic – and not to any election held after.
It added, “The health and safety of voters, candidates and elections officials is paramount. ELD is reviewing our election processes, and putting in place the necessary precautionary measures, in compliance with prevailing advisories from the Ministry of Health.”
The second reading of the Bill will be heard when Parliament next sits.
The next election must be held by 14 April 2021.
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