GE2020 explainer: What happens if I don't vote?

PHOTO: The Straits Times file

There's no hiding it: Voting is not as easy as just marking a box, at least not if you want to vote responsibly. 

You need to find out which area or rather constituency you're in, who will be running there, pay attention to what they're campaigning for, and the list goes on.

It's easier to not vote, sure. But what happens when you don't?

Simply put, you don't get to vote anymore.

After the elections are over, the Returning Officer will compile a list of non-voters, aka those who should have voted but didn't. In case you still didn't know. voting is compulsory for Singaporeans.  

This non-voters list is passed to the Registration Officer. Their names would then be removed from the Register of Electors (another list, but of people who can vote).

Non-voters would no longer be allowed to vote at the subsequent elections, and are disqualified from being an election candidate in the future.

Sure enough, non-voters can restore their names to the register by submitting an appeal, via the ELD's website or over-the-counter at any community centre, or at the Elections Department itself. Unless they have acceptable reasons for not voting, they'd have to pay a fee of $50.

But beyond a simple sheet of paper, not getting to vote (or disenfranchisement if you will) is the loss of a basic human right. 

And perhaps more importantly, every vote can tip the balance in favour of any one political party.

In the 2000 US Presidential election, 10 per cent of citizens in Florida had lost their votings rights as they had been previously convicted of felonies. According to research, if this 10 per cent could vote, Florida would have been a blue (Democratic) state. Republican George W Bush was the eventual winner of Florida's electoral votes, winning by just 537 votes out of the six million that were cast.

Every vote counts in winning, and even more so in a constituency in Singapore where there are as little as just 19,740 electors — Potong Pasir SMC. And depending on how many seats are won on a constituency level by a political party, the governing party is determined and who the governing party is affects everyone, including non-voters, and including you.

It's not too late to start paying attention to politics around you as we enter election season. 

Are you a first-time voter or perhaps just not all too familiar with what happens during a general election? Click here to read about everything you need to know about GE2020.

rainercheung@asiaone.com