Elections Dept may allow mail-in voting for overseas Singaporeans: Chan Chun Sing

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Education Minister Chan Chun Sing addresses Parliament on Monday, 13 September 2021. (SCREENGRAB: Ministry of Communications and Information YouTube channel)
Education Minister Chan Chun Sing addresses Parliament on Monday, 13 September 2021. (SCREENGRAB: Ministry of Communications and Information YouTube channel)

SINGAPORE — The Elections Department (ELD) is contemplating allowing overseas Singaporeans to mail in their votes, said Minister-in-charge of the Public Service Chan Chun Sing in Parliament on Thursday (3 March).

Other special arrangements for certain groups such as residents of nursing homes are also being considered.

"ELD expects to engage the public and key stakeholders such as the political parties, nursing homes and overseas Singaporeans on the possibility of piloting these initiatives sometime in the middle of this year," said Chan, who is also Education Minister.

Currently, overseas Singaporeans can vote at certain overseas polling stations. Voting by paper ballot at polling stations remains the most transparent and secure method of voting, said Chan. However, ELD recognises that it may not be possible for various reasons for all to travel to these polling stations.

Noting that some 4,794 overseas citizens voted in the 2020 General Election (GE), up from just 3,500 in 2011, Chan noted, "We recognise that many overseas Singaporeans remain engaged with Singapore and are keen to exercise their vote."

"Any new voting arrangements will need to balance between greater voting accessibility and convenience for voters with ensuring the integrity of the voting process and secrecy of the vote."

Chan was responding to a parliamentary query from Radin Mas Member of Parliament Melvin Yong, who asked if the government would consider mail-in voting for overseas Singaporeans.

Noting the special arrangements made during the GE2020 for those on Stay-Home Notice (SHN) at designated facilities to vote at these facilities away from other voters, Yong also asked if the government would provide similar arrangements for other groups of voters at future elections.

Chan also told the House that ELD is looking at piloting this arrangement for voters residing at some nursing homes. "With this in place, there will no longer be a need for nursing homes to bring their elderly voters staying with them to the polling stations to vote," said the minister.

The next Singaporean presidential election is scheduled to be held by 2023 while the next GE must be held by 2025.

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