Saturday, 23 September, 2023

About 85% of voters have voted in presidential election as at 5pm: ELD

  • Sun Online Desk
  • 1st September, 2023 05:51:59 PM
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About 85% of voters have voted in presidential election as at 5pm: ELD
A queue forming at the Katong Community Centre polling station at 7.55am, shortly after the gate opened, on Sept 1. ST PHOTO: SHERMAINE ANG

SINGAPORE - From nuns and nursing home residents, to a hospital patient who came with his leg in a cast, voters have been turning up at 1,264 polling stations on Friday.

As at 5pm, 2,302,996 Singaporeans – or about 85 per cent of the total number of eligible electors – had voted, said the Elections Department (ELD).

It added that those who have yet to vote are advised to cater sufficient time to cast their votes before the polls close at 8pm.

Polls opened at 8am as Singaporeans vote for the Republic’s ninth president.

After a shaky start, plagued by issues with the voter registration system and subsequent long queues, lines at polling centres eased by around 10am.

At Block 307 Jurong East Street 32, there was a queue of about 100 from 8am to 9am, with numbers falling drastically to just 10 people at 9.30am.

A 43-year-old Jurong resident, who wanted to be known only as Mr S, arrived in a wheelchair in his hospital gown and sporting a full-leg cast.

He had suffered a knee fracture but despite this, he voted accompanied by his wife, and then returned to the hospital.

They were among the diverse groups of voters on Friday that also included three Buddhist nuns at the Wisma Geylang Serai polling centre.

As at noon, the queues had shortened at polling stations around the island.

Singaporeans can track the queue situation at polling stations via this website.

There were several new features introduced this year to improve the voting process.

Voters can present their digital NRIC and ePoll card via the Singpass app instead of bringing the physical cards to their polling stations.

A self-inking X-stamp to be used on the ballot paper was also introduced.

First-time voter Aroni Sarkar, a student who voted at Katong Community Centre, said the process went smoothly. Staff at the polling station verified her NRIC and polling card manually after a lag in the digital system.

Ms Sarkar, 23, and her parents arrived at 8.10am and queued for about 30 minutes.

She said: “It was streamlined, focused, and smooth.”

However, a housewife who only wanted to be known as Madam Neo, waited almost an hour before she left the centre with her son and daughter, who are in their 20s.

Madam Neo, who is in her 50s, said: “The machines took very long to scan my NRIC, and there was a long queue because there were only two machines. We haven’t eaten breakfast yet.”

Republic of Singapore Air Force regular Ethan Ng, 44, liked the self-inking stamp.

He was the third person in the queue at a pavilion in front of Block 63 Lorong 5 Toa Payoh when he arrived at about 7am.

Retiree Kathirithamby Ramakrishnan, 74, who was first in the queue with his wife and son at Chung Cheng High School (Main) in Goodman Road, said he had no problem with the new X-stamp because the ink was still fresh.

Many elderly voters were among the first to the polls on Friday.

Election officials were seen patiently guiding elderly voters through the voting process in Toa Payoh Lorong 5.

An election official was heard saying “aunty, I cannot look” as he looked away from a voter’s voting slip, while telling her how to fold it into half before dropping it into the ballot box.

An 86-year-old woman, who declined to be named, had stamped a cross against the wrong candidate’s name because of her poor eyesight. She was given a new slip to cast her vote again.

In such instances, election officials will mark a voting slip as cancelled or invalid, before giving the voter a replacement voting slip. 

“They guided me through and were very kind,” she said, adding that she had chosen a candidate whom she felt was capable of treating the people very well.

Retiree Leow Sunn, 71, who voted at Block 852 Hougang Central, had a mishap with his physical poll card. He had to use the e-poll card instead because he had accidentally cut off the number on the physical card.

Voting was relatively seamless for 95-year-old Bay Hong Chee, who was ushered into a priority queue, and cast his vote at Geylang Serai Community Club within a span of two minutes. He was accompanied by his son-in-law, who pushed him around the voting centre.

He said the height of the voting counter was easy for him to reach, and he could see his ballot paper clearly from his wheelchair. The X-stamp was also easy to use, and only required him to press lightly on the ballot paper to cast his vote.

This year, there were also special polling stations set up at 31 nursing homes to make it more convenient for less mobile seniors to vote.

Madam Lee Dan Lin, 75, who cast her vote at the Society for the Aged Sick in Hougang Avenue 1, said voting on-site was very convenient as compared to going to polling stations.

Madam Lee, who has been at the nursing home for the past five years, said: “(Last time) it was very troublesome. An ambulance sent us there, and then we had to wait under the hot sun.”

After polls close on Friday, Singaporeans will get an early indication of the outcome of the presidential election at around 10pm to 11pm, before the final count is in.

This is because the ELD website will publish the results of a sample count, which is expected to be completed two to three hours after polling closes at 8pm.

Source: The Strait Times