betty July 26, 2022

SINGAPORE – Overseas Singaporeans voting by post in future elections will get confirmation that their envelopes have been received, and these envelopes will be postage-paid where available, said the Elections Department (ELD) on Tuesday (July 26).

Each return envelope would have a unique QR code that does not contain personal information or identifiers, and only envelopes with valid QR codes will be accepted. This ensures only one postal ballot paper from each registered overseas voter will be counted, said ELD.

The ELD was providing an update to feedback collected on new voting arrangements it had proposed in May for overseas voters and those in nursing homes.

These changes, which make it easier for people to vote, are part of a regular review of election processes.

A total of 13 political parties and 39 nursing home operators provided feedback, as did overseas Singaporeans and members of the public, said ELD.

An online survey of overseas Singaporeans garnered 3,221 responses from across 64 countries, it added.

In May, ELD had said that it planned to roll out postal voting in time for the presidential election, which is due by September next year.

On Tuesday, the department said that 82 per cent of respondents to the online survey supported postal voting, with convenience and being able to exercise the right to vote while living overseas as the top two reasons for their support.

Of the 1,771 respondents who had never voted while living overseas, 83 per cent indicated that they were willing to take part in postal voting.

However, respondents expressed concerns such as the security and safety of ballots – such as lost, damaged or delayed mails, the transparency of the process and the ease and cost of postal voting.

In response, ELD said that on top of requiring a postal voter to log in to the secure ELD Voter Services using Singpass to authenticate his identity and download the return envelope and postal ballot paper, there would be additional safeguards.

On top of unique QR codes, technology will be used to verify the wet-ink signature on the return envelope against the specimen signature provided earlier during registration for overseas voting.

With regard to transparency, ELD said it will make clear the criteria for rejection of return envelopes in the legislation.

For example, damaged or unsealed envelopes, multiple envelopes with the same QR code from one person, non-matching signatures, and envelopes with more than one postal ballot paper would all be rejected.

ELD will also provide information so that candidates and counting agents can verify that there is no ballot paper stuffing or non-legitimate ballots being counted.

It will also give postal voters an update on whether their return envelopes were received after overseas votes have been counted.