SINGAPORE — Singaporeans living overseas will be able vote by post in the upcoming presidential election if a new law, tabled in Parliament on Monday, goes through.
This means they will no longer need to travel to physical polling stations, which are located in specific cities – a situation which resulted in some voters not being able to vote because of travel restrictions during the 2020 General Election.
The new laws will also improve convenience for overseas voters and allow more overseas Singaporeans to qualify to vote, said the Elections Department (ELD) in a statement on Monday.
Singaporeans who are already registered will no longer need to re-register as overseas voters when the Register of Electors is revised, which typically takes place before elections, it said.
Overseas Singaporeans who would like to be registered as voters will have more time to meet the residency criterion of 30 days in the last three years, it added, as the count will start from the date of their application to be an overseas voter, instead of from March 1 under the old laws, it added.
At GE2020, there were 6,570 registered overseas voters, and of these, a total of 4,794 cast their ballots. In all, there are about 200,000 Singaporeans living overseas.
Changes to the law were introduced by Minister-in-Charge of the Public Service Chan Chun Sing on Monday, who said the second reading of the bill would be conducted after the Committee of Supply debates in March.
The ELD said in its statement that the key amendments propose to improve voting arrangements, update election advertising laws, enhance the election expenses regime and strengthen election processes.
There will also be special voting arrangements for nursing home residents under the new laws.
Special polling stations on nursing home premises as well as mobile polling teams can be deployed for residents to cast their votes, the statement said.
The statement added that various factors will be considered in determining whether a special polling station or a mobile polling team will be deployed, such as the number of voters in the nursing home and whether there is a suitable space in the nursing home for such a station.
Changes to election processes
The new bill will allow polling stations to be placed in adjacent constituencies, for the convenience of voters living near electoral boundaries, said the statement.
Under current laws, polling stations can only be placed within the electoral division boundaries.