Singaporeans fear they are not voting in secret: MARUAH

About 10 per cent of Singaporeans who voted in 2011’s general election feared that their votes could be traced back to them, according to local human rights group MARUAH.
 
This percentage is “greater than the margin of victory in many constituencies in GE2011”, which makes them a “significant minority”, the group stated in the position paper it presented in a media briefing Wednesday.
 
The paper was based on surveys, media monitoring and submissions from voters, proving that this voting fear exists amongst citizens, members of MARUAH said.
 
Specifically, voters were concerned that the use of serial numbers on ballot papers could be a tool for authorities to trace votes.

They also expressed unease over "flimsy” voting booths, loud calling out of voter’s full name and IC number and government references to precinct-level voting information.

To address these concerns, MARUAH proposed the following:
  • Abolish use of serial numbers, call outs and precinct voting
  • Redesign voting booths by “constructing privacy screens and curtains”
  • Organise campaigns to eradicate voting fear among citizens

MARUAH hopes to highlight these concerns and recommendations by sending the position paper to the parliament.

MARUAH president Braema Mathi said that this is the first time MARUAH is sending a position paper and she hopes to conduct dialogues with the public on this issue as well.
 
The paper was written by Leon Perera, a market researcher and MARUAH volunteer, who emphasised that despite their efforts to address this fear, MARUAH continues to believe that Singapore’s voting procedures are strictly confidential and that citizens should not fear its integrity.
 
Mathi added that MARUAH is only acting as an “instrument” to highlight the worries of those in the 10 per cent.
 
When asked why MARUAH did not release this report before the Punggol-East by-elections, Mathi said that they were afraid that their message might be misunderstood and hence, affect voting results.
 
The paper also compares Singapore’s electoral procedures from those conducted in other countries.
 
Photos of voting booths and ballot forms used in countries such as Thailand and Indonesia, are also included as examples that Singapore could adopt from.
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