SINGAPORE - The Elections Department has lodged a police report after receiving an email about the discovery of ballot boxes by a member of the public on Aug 27.
In a statement issued by the Elections Department, it stressed that "there are no implications on the secrecy of the vote and electoral process", noting that the discovery meant that the ballot boxes that were to be disposed "were missed at the point of collection" by the assigned contractor.
The Elections Department, which is under the Prime Minister's Office, sought to assuage the revelation, emphasising that current process tracking ballot boxes from the start of elections to the point where they are destroyed is rigoruous, and it "ensures secrecy of the vote".
"The process is open to observation by all candidates and their agents," the Elections Department added.
A later response from the Singapore Police Force confirmed the report lodged by the Elections Department.
"The persons interviewed by the Police have told the Police that the ballot boxes were empty when they found them, with no ballot papers inside. Preliminary investigations indicate that these were empty boxes left behind in the counting centre intended to be disposed of."
The Attorney-General's Chambers wil be addressed once the Police has concluded their investigations.
Here is the full statement from the Elections Department:
Elections Department has received media queries on some ballot boxes found.
Elections Department received an email from a member of public on 27 Aug 2013 that some ballot boxes were found. We have accordingly lodged a police report.
Empty ballot boxes are discarded after the elections. They are supposed to have been collected by the Elections Department's contractor, along with other discarded items, from the counting centres for general disposal. Discovery of used empty ballot boxes would mean that these were missed by the contractor at the point of collection for disposal. There are no implications on the secrecy of the vote and electoral process.
Ballot boxes are inspected by election officials at the polling stations before they are used for the casting of ballots. They then remain under the charge of the election officials until they are emptied at the counting centres. After the polls have closed, election officials at the polling stations seal the ballot boxes containing the ballot papers which have been cast, and transport the sealed ballot boxes under Police escort to the counting centres. At the counting centres, the ballot boxes are opened, and the ballot papers are poured out, sorted and counted. The entire process is carried out in the presence of candidates or their counting agents. The empty ballot boxes are put aside to be collected by the Elections Department's contractor and disposed of.
After the election result has been announced by the Returning Officer, the ballot papers and other documents used in the election are placed into separate boxes and sealed. They are then conveyed by Police escort and retained in safe custody for 6 months at the Supreme Court. After 6 months, they are destroyed, unless directed by order of the President. The process is open to observation by all candidates and their agents. This rigorous process ensures secrecy of the vote.
Here is the full statement from the Singapore Police Force:
“In response to media queries on the case of ballot boxes being found, Police confirm that a report has been lodged. The persons interviewed by the Police have told the Police that the ballot boxes were empty when they found them, with no ballot papers inside. Preliminary investigations indicate that these were empty boxes left behind in the counting centre intended to be disposed of. Police investigations are still ongoing into the matter, including confirming what has been uncovered thus far, and the Attorney-General’s Chambers will be addressed upon completion of investigations.”