DUTIES OF POLLING & COUNTING AGENTS

Who can be Election Kakis?

Any Singapore citizen 21 and above can be an Election Kaki. The people who will be at Polling Centres and Counting Centres would come from:

1. From citizens in the Civil Service, selected by Elections Department Singapore
2. From citizens volunteering via political parties, without necessarily becoming party members.

What Election Kakis is providing is a citizen-driven platform to gather like-minded fellow citizens to participate as Polling Agents (PA) and Counting Agents (CA). As interested parties sign up with Election Kakis, they will be provided training on understanding the various roles – PA, CA – and once that is done, will form a pool of trained PA/CAs that various election candidates/political parties can then call upon to support the Polling and Counting roles.

The authority to be present at a Polling Centre and a Counting Centre is only given by the respective candidates/political parties and NOT Election Kakis. Election Kakis is a funnel for citizen participation in a non-partisan manner as in any participatory democracies.

The duties of Polling Agents and Counting Agents are as follows (subject to final changes by Elections Department during each election):

1. Polling Stage

A.  The Election Department Officials, temporary staff from the civil service, arrive early and inspect the Polling Station together with the candidates and Polling Agents. There is one Polling Agent to one candidate. They will be there throughout the voting period from 8am to 8pm. Sometimes, there are two shifts of Polling Agents if there is sufficient manpower.

The Polling Agent is appointed by the candidate/party. There is no requirement to be a member of the political  party to which the candidate belongs.

B. The ballot boxes are folded and sealed and the Polling Agents will sign on the seal.

C. The boxes are ready for the voters to cast their votes.

D. When a voter arrives, he/she proceeds to register. The Election Official calls the name and NRIC number of the voter to enable the representatives of contesting political parties at the polling station to verify and cross out your name on their copies of the electoral register.

E. The voter will be issued a ballot paper with a serial number, but not his name or NRIC number.

F. The voter marks the ballot paper in a booth out of sight of everyone. No cameras are permitted in the polling station. The voter folds the ballot paper and drops it into the ballot  box.

G. Throughout the day, polling agents from each party are at the polling station to ensure that the ballot boxes are not opened.

H. The serial number on the ballot papers is a safeguard against election fraud, so all the ballot  papers can be accounted for. There can be no extra ballot papers or serial numbers. Other  countries, including the UK, have numbered ballot papers. There is no opportunity for the Election Officials or candidates to peek at the votes and match them against the electoral roll. There are no names on the ballot papers. Hence, if someone wanted to match  the serial numbers, he would have to search through tens of thousands of ballot papers, a  very tedious scenario.

I. Transporting the ballot boxes to the Counting Centre. At 8pm, the ballot boxes are sealed with tamper-proof seals and signed over by the candidates and/or polling agents. They are loaded onto buses to be transported to the Counting Centre. The Polling Agents will check the bus before the ballot boxes are loaded. The Polling Agents can follow the bus to the Counting Centre.

2. Counting Stage

A. One Counting Agent is assigned to one candidate who will be present at the Counting Centre at about 6pm to check on the facilities at the centre. 

Like Polling Agents, the Counting Agents are appointed by the candidate/party. There is no requirement to be a member of the political  party to which the candidate belongs.

B. When the ballot boxes arrive from the Counting Centres, they are unloaded and carried into the Counting Centre, observed by the candidates and/or Counting Agents.

C. The ballot boxes are unsealed in the presence of the candidates and emptied in a common heap. The Election Officials then count the votes in full view of the candidates.

D. A sample count is performed at the start of the counting process. This gives an early indication of the possible electoral outcome for an electoral division. This is done by picking up a random sample of 100 ballot papers. The votes for each candidate are then counted from this random sample.

E. Each polling station serves about 10-20 blocks of flats and/or a few landed housing estates. As the counting of votes is done, sorted by Polling Stations, it is possible to know the overall results of each Polling Station. The results sorted by Polling Stations, are accessible to all political parties contesting in that constituency. It is possible to say a particular zone of residents supported a political party, but it is not possible to narrow it down to a particular block or an individual.

F. When a ballot is not properly marked, the Counting Agent of each candidate and the elections official will discuss and come to a decision to accept or reject the vote as spoilt.

3. Post-Elections Storage Stage

After counting is completed, the votes together with all the relevant records, the stubs of the  ballot papers as well as unused ballot papers are sealed in new boxes with tamper-proof seals and transported to the vault at the Supreme Court where they are kept for at least 6 months. The votes cannot be retrieved unless a Court Order is obtained on the grounds of election fraud.  No court order has been issued to recount votes since Singapore conducted  elections in 1948.

4. Post-Elections Destruction Stage

Six months after the elections, if there are no disputes over the elections result, representatives from all political parties gather at the Supreme Court to witness the transportation of the sealed storage boxes to the incinerator.  The seals on the storage boxes are checked to be intact and for any tampering. They then accompany the ballot boxes to the incinerator to witness the destruction.

Tampering with the electoral process is a serious criminal offence. The assurance that your vote is secret and cannot be traced is a sign of good governance.

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