Monday, October 18, 2010

Surely You Are Not Afraid?

The perennial topic comes up each time elections are imminent. Theoretically, by matching the serial number on the ballot paper against the electoral roll number printed on the counterfoil, the polling agents (usually staff from the Ministry of Education) can easily trace how anyone has voted.

The practice of numbering ballot papers, inherited from the British system, is the achilles heel of the secret vote, latter being fundamental to the concept of a true democracy. The justification comes about when a voter arrives at the polling station only to find that someone pretending to be them has already cast a ballot. The bogus vote can, again theroretically, then be substituted by the genuine one.

During the run-up to the 2006 General Elections, Channel News Asia aired a programme “Why My Vote Matters” which featured a dialogue session between Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and a selected panel of media executives born after 1965. Journalist Lee Chern Wen asked about SM Goh Chok Tong's election promise that if more than 60% voted for PAP, a certain constituency will get the upgrading. Her question to MM Lee, "How does the PAP know it's 60%? How can the residents not be fearful when you actually check into..." did not receive a convincing response. Lee's reply, "We can guess from our campaigning and our house to house visits, but we won't know who comprises that 60%," was met with Ken's famous repartee: "You don't need to know that to strike fear though".

Everyone appreciates that the fact of whether someone has voted or not should be verified, to prevent impersonation or double-voting, but there should be no way to trace how anyone has voted. Maybe we should adopt the system of marking fingers with indelible ink, seen in Third World countries in the African continent. The ink plays a similar role for conducting fair and impartial elections to control fake voting.  Since quite a few Singaporeans are already feeling they are fast becoming Third Class citizens, it may be the most appropriate approach to a vexing problem. 


  1. Your vote is secret. The various political parties who have participated in the past elections will assure you of this based on their experience.

    You can get a brochure from WP describing exactly how it is. This is also explained by the Elections Department:

  2. Why should a voter be afraid of others knowing to which candidate he/she has given the vote to? This fear even if real is truly laughable.
    Voting in Singapore is compulsory BUT NOT COMPULSORY IN uncontested wards where there are always Ruling Party Candidates. So what does compulsory mean?

    Voting is a legal process in a democratic system, me feels that it will be better if voting is made an open affair. That is to say any voter can openly reveal his/her choice of candidate(s) if he/she wishes to reveal. This is definitely better than 'your vote is secret', which causes a lot of guessing games and undue fear.

    Next is the GROUNDLESS FEAR that had been circulating since election was implemented as a democratic system to elect leaders. Why does me says the fear is groundless? Me has only one simple question to explain and that is what's there to fear?

    Singapore is no Philippines or any third world countries where political massacres and murders were not uncommon. If there is anything positive that is worth mentioning in Sin, me would say our politicians, whoever they are, are much more better than those in many other countries.

    Back to the GROUNDLESS FEAR again. We had two opposition leaders that were repeatedly voted into Parliament. Do the constituents in those two wards have to hide under their beds at night? Do they get mistreated as citizens? Can the leaders in Sin afford to maltreat citizens that voted for oppositions? Me thinks the answer are obvious.

    Voting for our choices of politicians is our rights as a citizen, there is nothing shameful about it. The only shame that we as citizens suffer, is to behave as though voting for our leaders is like a clandestine affair.


  3. A mark of political maturity of a country is displayed when its citizens can openly discuss and debate which policies and which parties they support, agree to disagree on issues, and respect others' opinions. No?


  4. Ya lor,
    Sin should have a new voting system with transparent boxes for the contesting parties for voters to just put their voting slips in openly(in full view of others). And the counting of the votes be done on the spot at the end of voting. It is both transparent and save a lot of hassle.