E-registration & machine vote-counting for next S'pore general election after Q3 2019

Which means, well, the next election will only come after that.

Matthias Ang| November 22, 07:43 PM

The next General Election (GE) will introduce counting machines used to tally your votes that will see polling results announced up to an hour earlier.

According to Channel NewsAsiathe announcement was made by the Singapore Elections Department (ELD) on Thursday, Nov. 22, at a media briefing. 

These are not electronic voting machines, though, the ELD says, unlike those used in countries like the U.S. voters will still use hard copy ballot papers.

The Straits Times (ST) said the machines used are similar to those used to count bank notes. They are battery-powered and not connected to the internet.

Current counting of votes is a manual process

Presently, votes are counted manually. Ballot papers are mixed, unfolded and sorted into different stacks for each candidate.

After the polls close, Presiding Officers at the polling stations seal the ballot boxes. Candidates and their polling agents who are present witness the process, and may also place their own seals on the ballot boxes.

The sealed boxes are then transported under police escort to the counting centre, where a counting assistant does a manual count of the ballot papers. A second assistant verifies the counted number.

Machines will smoothen counting

Reports also said the new machines will cut the time taken to count 4,000 ballot papers from three hours to between 100 and 130 minutes.

This represents time savings of between 50 and 80 minutes, or roughly a third of the original time taken.

A counting assistant will first use the machine to count 100 ballot papers before passing it on to a second counting assistant. The latter will recount the pile using another machine.

ELD added that each counting assistant must independently achieve a count of 100 before the ballot count is confirmed.

Accuracy checks will also be conducted on the machines prior to vote counting and can be witnessed by candidates and their appointed counting agents.

E-registration to be implemented at polling stations

It was also announced on Thursday that the next election will also see electronic registration for voters.

Voters will scan their NRICs, instead of having an election officer manually search for their names on a register to strike off.

This, says the ELD, will reportedly shorten the time taken for a voter to register himself or herself by four times.

E-counting machines to be delivered in Q3 2019

According to ST, the ELD said it will be issuing a tender for the voter e-registration system, with the project slated to be awarded by the first quarter of next year.

The paper also reported that the ELD is looking at using an existing logistics contract to lease up to 2,700 counting machines, expected to be delivered in the third quarter of 2019.

Which, in the event you were wondering, probably means the next GE won't be happening in the coming six months.

Here's what we're referring to:

Top Photo by Alex Ortega via Google Maps