1,093 S’poreans didn't get PE2023 poll card, election officials might've missed out registration steps while clearing queues in GE2020

Chan Chun Sing said human error could have been the cause.

Khine Zin Htet | September 19, 2023, 04:57 PM



After the Writ for the 2023 Presidential Election was issued and on Polling Day (Sep. 1), 1,093 Singaporeans reported to the Elections Department (ELD) that they did not receive a poll card despite having voted in GE2020.

This is despite the call from ELD for citizens to check their status on the non-voter list for verification to restore their names before PE2023.

Speaking to Parliament on Sep. 19, Minister for Education Chan Chun Sing said that the most probable cause of the error was that the NRIC details of those affected voters had not been captured properly by the electronic registration system introduced in GE2020.

Proper registration procedure may not have been followed, especially at crowded polling stations, he added.

Registration procedure in GE2020

Chan explained how the non-registration could have happened:

"The voters' NRIC and poll cards are first checked by election officials at the registration counter before the NRIC is scanned to register the voter.

When the NRIC of a voter is scanned by the barcode reader, an alert or beep sound will be emitted and a digital screen will flash the "OK" button indicating that the voter data has been successfully captured in the system.

At this point, the election officials should tap the "OK" button to return the registration screen so that the NRIC of the next voter can be scanned.

If the NRIC of the next voter is scanned when the screen was not returned to the registration screen, the alert sound will still be emitted, as this indicates that the NRIC has been scanned.

However, the record of this voter would not have been captured."

In an effort to clear the queues at some polling stations during GE2020, some election officials may have missed out on this step, he added.

Preventing future errors

For PE2023, the electronic registration system was a new system with a simplified process.

Election officials were not required to press any buttons to register the next voter.

As such, Chan believes that the issue of non-captured registrations due to errors in the electronic system process will no longer arise.

ELD will also institute an additional measure to individually inform Singaporeans on the non-voters lists via mail and through SG Notify in Singpass to verify their status and to restore their names to the register if need be.

This process will also be carried out for the non-voters list for PE2023.

Currently, all 1,093 affected Singaporeans from PE2023 have had their names restored to the register, Chan said.

Why is there a need to restore names

Chan also explained the rationale for requiring Singaporeans to apply to restore their names if they did not vote in a previous election.

"A penalty of $50 must be paid for one's name to be restored if he or she does not provide a valid reason for not voting. And the penalty is waived if the voter is able to provide a valid reason such as being overseas on polling day," he said.

Otherwise, he or she will no longer be able to vote in future elections or to stand nominated as a candidate for elections.

The penalty for non-voters for not voting and the process of expunging the names of non-voters gives effect to the notion of compulsory voting, he explained.

"Starting on a clean slate with no penalty will undermine this."

Technical issues during PE2023

Chan also responded to Jurong GRC MP Tan Wu Meng's question on technical issues with the electronic registration system during PE2023.

He said there was a 30% average loss in device connectivity in the first hour of polling, which reduced to 16% by 10am that day.

There was no evidence that this was caused by cyber attacks, he added.

"Instead, this could have been partly contributed by the surge in the volume of transactions during the morning peak, where about 52% of the total number of voters had already voted in the first four hours compared to 32% in GE2020," he explained.

Prior to Polling Day, ELD also had full dress rehearsals with all devices to check through connectivity issues and hardware issues as well.

Chan later added that there may be errors regardless of whether the system is manual or electronic but that they "will endeavour to make sure that this error is to the minimum possible".

Top photos from MCI\Youtube and Livia Soh