The Elections Department (ELD) has acknowledged shortcomings in the conduct of polling at this year’s General Election. In doing so, it has reflected on the high standards that it set for itself and maintained consistently in enabling the most important democratic exercise in Singapore to take place. Obviously, this year’s election was special by any account because it was held amid the coronavirus pandemic. Public health concerns were the foremost challenge because it would have been a social disaster had polling led to a significant outbreak of Covid-19 hitting Singapore. However, there was a need to hold the polls so that Singaporeans could choose a government with the mandate to act decisively to steer the country through and out of the crisis. It fell on the ELD to balance the needs of safety and democracy in what was perhaps a most unusual election.
It fared well overall. In a survey, seven out of 10 voters polled said they were satisfied with their experience at polling stations. However, those who had voted at schools and community centres or clubs, which housed polling stations with more voters, registered a poorer voting experience because of the length of time that it took to cast their ballots. A 70 per cent satisfaction rate in the midst of a pandemic-hit election is not a bad result. And it is worth noting that the much talked about post-election surge of virus cases never happened.