GE2020: ELD apologises for miscommunication that prevented woman from voting – report

A woman casting her vote at the Chung Cheng High School polling centre on 10 July. (PHOTO: Joseph Nair for Yahoo News Singapore)
A woman casting her vote at the Chung Cheng High School polling centre on 10 July. (PHOTO: Joseph Nair for Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — The Elections Department (ELD) has apologised for “human error and miscommunication” that caused a Singaporean woman to be unable to cast her vote at the General Election last Friday (10 July).

Lianhe Wanbao reported on Wednesday that the 36-year-old woman, who is identified only as Mdm Lum, had made a police report after she was not able to vote as the register reflected that she had already voted. She ended up marking her choice on a tendered ballot paper which would not be counted.

Lum told the Chinese evening daily that an error message had popped up when she tried to scan her identity card at her polling station at Block 23A Ghim Moh Link. After several unsuccessful attempts, an election official told her that her NRIC had already been used to vote earlier.

According to Lianhe Wanbao, the woman – who belongs to Holland-Bukit Timah group representation constituency – insisted she had not cast her vote yet.

An official eventually issued her a tendered ballot, and she had to sign an Oath of Identity form to confirm her identity and to declare that she had not already voted.

According to the Parliamentary Elections Act, tendered ballot papers – which are issued to people who apply to cast their vote even after the Presiding Officer has informed them that they have already voted – are not counted. Instead, they are placed into separate packets, sealed and retained.

Miscommunication between officers at polling station

In response, ELD told Lianhe Wanbao that Lum’s NRIC was not used to register to vote on Polling Day. Instead, the mistake was due to “human error and miscommunication between the two election officials handling her registration on Polling Day”.

It explained that the Presiding Officer (PO) was not able to register Lum's NRIC as he had "not switched out of the wrong module of the e-Registration system”. The PO then escalated the matter to the Assistant Returning Officer (ARO).

“However, a miscommunication between the PO and ARO led the latter to interpret that Mdm Lum's NRIC number had already been used to register for voting earlier in the day. This was then wrongly communicated to Mdm Lum,” ELD told Lianhe Wanbao.

According to the Chinese paper, ELD has reached out to Lum to clarify the matter and to apologise. Lum’s name will be restored to the Registers of Electors without penalty.

ELD has made several apologies recently for long queues at several polling stations during Polling Day, which caused voting to be extended until 10pm.

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