As a first time voter, other than paying attention to the parties who intend to contest in my constituency, I’ve always been curious about the physical act of voting. Of course, with COVID-19 the act of physically heading to a voting booth and casting my vote will be starkly different compared to prior General Elections. While I’ve never doubted the electoral process, this train of thought has led me to also wonder if our vote is truly a secret.
I’m sure this thought has crossed many minds, and I’m here to assure you that our vote truly is a secret.
Before you head out to vote on 10 July 2020, 8 am, polling agents first check and ensure that ballot boxes are empty. When you finally arrive at your polling booth, polling agents cross-check your identification with the Registers of Electors. Following that, you receive a ballot paper, which contains a serial number, this is where one might fear being identified by simply matching their identification number and the serial number on the ballot paper that they used.
According to gov.sg, theoretically, that is possible but highly improbable. It is very important to understand that the serial number on the voting slip is to ensure strict accounting of all ballot papers issued and cast. Or in simpler terms, to make sure that the number of ballot papers given out during polling tallies with the number of ballot papers received at the end of the election and the number of ballot papers stocked before polling stations were opened.
The serial numbers on the ballot paper are also critical to prevent impersonation.
When polls close at 8 pm, poll boxes are then sealed. Polling agents then double-check if the boxes are sealed and also ensure that the seals bear the signature of the polling agent before escorting the boxes to the counting centres. Before counting begins, counting agents check all boxes and seals. After counting ends, the boxes are sealed and signed again. The ballot boxes are then kept in a vault in the Supreme Court, this is done in case anyone decides to challenge the results in court.
Six months later, candidates are invited to check if any seals were broken, following that candidates will also witness the ballot boxes being transported to the incinerator, and finally will also witness the destruction of your ballot papers.
I hope this reassured anyone who ever wondered if their vote is truly a secret, remember to fully utilise your right to vote, make the change you want to see!
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