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Registers of Electors to be revised by July 31: Is GE round the corner?

Registers of Electors to be revised by July 31: Is GE round the corner?
The Electoral Department announced that the Registers of Electors will be updated by July 31.
PHOTO: The Straits Times file

Singapore's Registers of Electors will be revised before end-July and open for public inspection in June, said the Elections Department (ELD) in a statement on Monday (May 20).

Does it mean that Singaporeans will be heading to the polls soon? 

In previous years, the revision of the registers was issued months before the General Election (GE) took place.

In 2020, the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, voter rolls were updated and ready for public inspection in mid-April — soon after the two-month circuit breaker kicked in — and the GE happened on July 10.

Meanwhile, in 2015, the registers were revised by April 30 and Singaporeans cast their ballots on Sept 11.

In 2011, the polls were on May 7 — less than three months after voter rolls were certified on Feb 22.

For the next elections, PM Wong has until November 2025 to hold it.

September GE possible

Independent political observer Felix Tan predicts that the GE will likely be held this year, although he notes that the updating of the voter rolls is merely to request that Singaporeans register themselves for voting.

"This will allow the ELD to find out whether residents' [profile] has changed in a particular constituency that might then lead to changes in the electoral boundaries," he told AsiaOne.

And once the ELD has noted the changes, it might consider convening an Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC), Tan added.

"The EBRC can also be concurrently convened to look into the redrawing of the electoral boundaries while Singaporeans register themselves."

When Prime Minister Lawrence Wong was announced as Singapore's new leader in April, Tan had told other media outlets that the GE could take place as early as September.

And he still feels that could happen.

He said: "PM Wong would want to fully utilise the National Day Rally as part of his campaign strategy. Other signs of an impending election may be regular walkabouts, especially in the PAP constituencies."

Singapore Management University law professor Eugene Tan also believes that a snap election — potentially in September — is imminent, although he did not rule out other possibilities.

"I believe this is the first update of the register this year and since the presidential election (in September 2023). It is therefore routine and regular, and tends to be more frequent when the GE nears," he said.

"The clock is indeed ticking because the term of the 14th Parliament ends in August 2025. All the previous Parliaments did not complete their five-year terms when elections were called."

'The wheels are in motion'

However, Gillian Koh, a senior research fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies, thinks that Singaporeans might not be heading to the polls so soon.

Referring to the Registers of Electors revision, she told AsiaOne: "This is one element that needs to be completed before a GE is called, or at least it is best practice."

Echoing Felix Tan's statement regarding the convening of an EBRC and relooking of electoral boundaries, Koh noted that it can be months before the committee presents its report and recommendations, and more months until they are accepted.

"When that (the EBRC report) is made public, it can still be months before the Writ of Election is issued," she added, pointing out that in past years, the time between the release of the report and the Writ has varied from two to four months.

A check by AsiaOne shows that in the past few elections, the EBRC report was usually released about a month after the Registers of Electors revision. 

"(The registers) announcement suggests that the wheels are in motion towards the GE – and it is only natural," said Koh.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this article stated that the Registers of Electors will be open for public inspection from June 1. This is incorrect. The registers will be open for public inspection in June 2024.

ALSO READ: Lawrence Wong set to become PM in May: Will General Election be held this year?

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