Elections Department seeking logistics providers for next polls

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaking at the People's Action Party (PAP) lunchtime rally held at Boat Quay on 3 May 2011.

The Elections Department (ELD) is looking for companies to provide logistics support and equipment for the next general election (GE), amid rising speculation over when the polls will be held.

This comes three months after the ELD issued a tender for the establishment of an election hotline to deal with public inquiries.

The hotline tender exercise closed on March 16, but the contract has yet to be awarded.

The ELD's latest tender for logistics providers, issued on May 6, comes amid talk that the next GE - which must be held by January 2017 - will take place sooner rather than later.

Firms interested in bidding for the tender, which is worth up to $30 million, must submit their proposals by June 9. The ELD has up to six months to consider the offers before they lapse.

The winner of the six-year contract must supply logistics support and election-related equipment for the next general and presidential elections, as well as any by-election held after May next year. The next presidential election must be held by August 2017.

The provider must also store the equipment and set up venues such as nomination centres, polling stations and counting centres during the election periods.

The new tender will require more polling stations to be set up in the next GE, to cater to an increase in the number of voters since the last polls, a spokesman for the department told The Straits Times.

An estimated 850 polling stations will be set up, compared with 732 in the 2011 GE. The latest voter rolls show 2,460,484 eligible voters as of Feb 1, up from 2,350,257 in April 2011.

Although the tender coincides with talk of whether the GE will be held this year, past tenders have not always been an indication of imminent polls. For instance, a tender was called in January 2010 to set up an election hotline, but the GE took place over a year later, in May 2011.

As for preparation of the logistics, the department said it is part of the routine work that goes into organising elections.

Agreeing, political observer Eugene Tan said the tender was a "forward-looking" one that would enable the department to deal with changing demographics, for instance, by providing more wheelchairs for a greying population.

"It's a way to keep up with the changes such as additional voters," said the associate professor of law at Singapore Management University.

He added that the formation of the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee, which examines and redraws constituency boundaries ahead of each election, would be the "milestone to indicate we are on the road towards the GE".

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was coy about the date of the next polls during his appearance on a live Mandarin radio programme.

"I think it won't be long now," he said, adding with a laugh that it would happen "at least within the next two years".


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