Voter rolls being updated again

Voter rolls being updated again
Madam Cheng Ah Moy, 84, being helped by presiding officers at a polling station in Hougang in the 2011 General Election, which was held on May 7, 2011.

Singapore's lists of voters are being updated again, for the second time since the last general election in 2011.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has directed the revision of the Registers of Electors be made and completed by April 30, said a notice on the Government Gazette yesterday.

The routine exercise to keep the voter rolls up to date sparked excitement among some people about the timing of the next election, but MPs and political observers saw it as a way to ensure that everyone who was eligible to vote could do so at the next election, due by January 2017.

The first revision, which was completed last year, showed there were 2,411,188 eligible voters.

Yesterday, the Elections Department said in the gazette notice that the revision "is to bring the registers up to date".

The revised registers will contain the names of all Singapore citizens who qualify to be electors as of Feb 1 this year. It includes Singaporeans who turned 21 since Feb 1 last year, the cut-off date when the registers were last revised. Also included are new immigrants who have become citizens since Feb 1 last year.

Under the Parliamentary Elections Act, voter rolls must be updated not more than three years after a general election. The Act also lets the Prime Minister call for revisions from time to time.

Before the 2011 election, the voter rolls were revised three times - in February 2009, February 2010 and January 2011.

Previously, voter rolls were revised once or twice in between an election. Between the 1988 and 1991 General Elections, the rolls were revised just once.

But they were updated on two occasions each time ahead of the elections in 1997, 2001 and 2006.

Commenting on the latest revision, Singapore Management University law professor Eugene Tan, a former Nominated MP, said: "I don't think it points to an election being imminent. Given that the Elections Department has been making it a good practice to make regular updates, I see this as good housekeeping."

He also said the updates would ensure the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee, when formed, will have the latest information on where people live, a factor in deciding how the boundaries of constituencies are determined.

MPs Zaqy Mohamad and Inderjit Singh also said the revision was a routine exercise.

Mr Zaqy said: "I wouldn't read too much into it. The updates are just to take into consideration any recent changes, for example, people moving homes, moving into new estates."

But Mr Singh said knowing how the population numbers have changed would lay the groundwork for the boundaries committee to do its work.

The convening of the boundaries committee is the first step on the road to calling an election. For the 2006 and 2011 elections, it took around four months to issue its report on electoral boundaries after it was formed. A few months after the report was issued, a general election was called.

This article was first published on February 3, 2015.
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