SINGAPORE — The Singapore Presidential Election 2023’s Polling Day is set for 1 September, designated a public holiday by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
Singaporeans will be voting to elect their ninth president from three candidates — former minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, ex-GIC chief investment officer Ng Kok Song and ex-chief executive office of NTUC Income Tan Kin Lian.
Here are some commonly asked questions regarding Polling Day.
1. Who gets to enjoy the Polling Day public holiday?
Like other public holidays in Singapore, the Polling Day public holiday applies to individuals covered by the Employment Act. Additionally, all educational institutions will be closed, granting students a break. The Education Ministry made this decision earlier this month.
2. What do you do if your employer wants you to work on Polling Day?
If you are required to work on Polling Day, the Manpower Ministry states you have several options. You are entitled to either receive a full day’s extra salary or the choice to take a separate day off.
Another option is your employer granting you compensatory time off based on the hours worked on Polling Day. This applies to workmen earning more than $4,500 a month, non-workmen earning more than $2,600 a month, and all managers and executives.
Furthermore, all employers must give employees who are voters a “reasonable period of time” to vote. However, employees also need to inform their employers for this time off request, so that arrangements can be made to cover duties.
Voting hours are between 8am and 8pm.
3. Is voting mandatory for me?
Voting is mandatory for eligible Singaporeans ages 21 and above in the Presidential Election 2023.
Even if you have work commitments, your employer is legally obliged to provide you with adequate time to complete the voting process.
The cut-off date for individuals to be considered of age to vote is 1 June 2023. Those who turn 21 after that date are not part of the current set of registers.
The Elections Department (ELD) states on its website that voting is a fundamental right of citizenship.
It is considered a civic responsibility for citizens to exercise this right in order to choose and elect their leaders in a democracy. Furthermore, attempting to dissuade someone from voting is considered an offence.
4. What items do I need to bring when going to vote?
On Election Day, make sure you have your NRIC and poll card ready before leaving home.
Besides an NRIC, uniformed personnel can use an identity card issued by the Ministry of Defence, Singapore Police Force, or Singapore Civil Defence Force. Alternatively, a valid passport will also be accepted.
Your poll card will be sent to your latest registered residential address with the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) within two to three working days after Nomination Day.
If you prefer a digital option, you can utilise the Singpass app to access both your digital IC and ePoll card for added convenience.
5. If I’m overseas during Polling Day, am I still able to cast my vote?
Travelling or overseas for work
If you are overseas temporarily (such as for work or travels) during Polling Day, the ELD notes that you won’t be able to cast your vote.
Your name will be temporarily removed from the electoral registers, making you ineligible for future presidential or parliamentary elections.
However, you can have your name reinstated for free through an application, citing your valid reason for not voting. If your reason is not valid, you will have to pay a fee of $50 to reinstate your name.
If you are unable to vote due to unforeseen circumstances, but wish to vote at future elections, you may pre-apply for your name to be restored to the registers by submitting an application online via the Services provided on ELD website using Singpass.
You can also seek over-the-counter assistance at any community centre/club or the Elections Department itself.
Only Singaporeans residing abroad have the option to vote by post or at an overseas polling station.
Singapore has established 10 overseas polling stations in various cities: Beijing, Canberra, Dubai, Hong Kong, London, New York, San Francisco, Shanghai, Tokyo, and Washington.
The selection of these cities is based on the presence of a “significant number” of Singaporeans residing there, said the ELD.
Much like the voting process within Singapore, these overseas polling stations will operate for a duration of 12 hours, specifically from 8am to 8pm, aligned with the local time of their respective cities.
The ELD announced on Wednesday (23 August) that for this presidential election, a total of 6,649 Singaporeans have successfully registered as overseas voters. Among these voters, 3,432 will be voting by post.
6. What are some acceptable reasons for not being able to vote?
The ELD acknowledges several valid reasons for not voting, including studying abroad, working overseas on Polling Day, having pre-planned overseas vacations before Nomination Day, living with a spouse studying or working abroad, and facing health issues or childbirth.
7. How about voting for senior voters and caregivers?
To facilitate voting for senior citizens and individuals with special needs, polling stations will implement dedicated drop-off points for vehicles transporting such voters.
These drop-off areas are designed to be easily accessible, featuring wheelchair availability for those who require them. Moreover, senior voters and those with special needs will be provided a priority queue for obtaining their ballot papers.
Accompanying these voters, a caregiver can join the priority queue, provided they are eligible voters themselves. Non-eligible individuals will not be granted access to the polling station.
In instances where assistance is necessary, an election official will be present to guide the voter through the voting process. After completing the voting process, the voter will reunite with their caregiver at the exit point.
For voters who are unable to mark their ballot papers unaided, election officials will be on hand to provide assistance. These officials are bound by oath to maintain the secrecy of the voter’s choice.
Additionally, visually impaired voters will receive stencils to enable them to cast their votes independent.
8. How about voting accessibility for nursing home residents?
A pilot programme aimed at enhancing voting accessibility for nursing home residents has been initiated in Singapore, encompassing about 31 nursing homes.
The programme involves the establishment of polling stations within the nursing homes themselves. Additionally, mobile polling teams might be dispatched to facilitate voting for residents who are confined to their beds.
The recent changes to Singapore’s election laws, which were approved in Parliament this March, have enabled the implementation of these new arrangements.
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