Representatives from the parties that contested in the 2020 General Election (GE2020) witnessed the destruction of ballot papers and other documents today (Jan. 16).
The ballot papers and documents had been retained in safe custody at the Supreme Court for a period of six months after the election, in line with the requirements stated in the Parliamentary Elections Act (PEA).
Representatives documented process on social media
Many of the representatives posted updates of the procedure on social media.
Safe management measures
Due to Covid-19, the Elections Department (ELD) said that safe management measures would be in place during the proceedings at both the Supreme Court and the incineration plant in Tuas, including limiting the number of representatives.
The majority of the parties represented at today's proceedings sent two representatives each. The representatives were masked and spaced out from each other, in line with prevailing safe management measures.
Checking of seals on boxes at Supreme Court vault
Boxes containing the ballot papers and other documents were sealed after the votes were counted, and stored in the Supreme Court vault.
On Jan. 16, the parties' representatives checked that the seals were intact, confirming that the votes had remained sealed.
Opening of box from Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC polling district PN23
A box from polling district PN23 of the Pasir Ris-Punggol Group Representation Constituency (GRC) was opened, however.
This is because a copy of the register of electors for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC was accidentally sealed into the box.
The President directed the Returning Officer to retrieve the document, and ELD previously said that the box would be opened at the Supreme Court for the register to be retrieved, so that a list of electors in PN23 who did not vote at the election can be prepared.
Photos uploaded by Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) chairman Desmond Lim appeared to show the box being re-sealed and sent for destruction, together with the other boxes.
Signing on pallets loaded with boxes
The parties' representatives then witnessed the boxes being loaded onto wooden pallets, numbered, and wrapped with plastic.Each party's representatives then signed on the boxes.
Transportation to Tuas incineration plant
They were then loaded onto trucks, to be transported to the Tuas incineration plant.
The pallets were unloaded at the Tuas incineration plant.
The representatives then watched from a distance as the sealed boxes were brought into the incineration facility.
According to a "final update" by Kayla Low from the Progress Singapore Party, the incineration was complete at around 1pm today.
The mood throughout the day's proceedings appeared to be jovial, with representatives of different parties appearing in each others' social media uploads, even taking photos together.
Legal requirements for treatment of ballot papers and other documents
In accordance with the Parliamentary Elections Act (Chapter 218), ballot papers and other documents used in an election must sealed and retained in safe custody for a period of six months.
This is to ensure the secrecy of the vote.
During the six-month period, only a Judge of the High Court can order the sealed boxes to be opened and their contents inspected.
Even then, it can only be for the purpose of instituting or maintaining a prosecution or an application to invalidate an election.
At the end of the six months after the poll, the contents of the ballot boxes must all be destroyed unless otherwise directed by Order of the President.
Top image via Yeo Wan Ling, Pritam Singh, Spencer Ng Chung Hon on Facebook and @mincheong on Instagram