Let Captain Obvious say this again: Elections are coming.
According to experts, it could come as early as 24 June 2020—which is like two weeks from now.
Today, we’re one step closer to the elections as the Election Department (ELD) announces a series of changes and measures that’ll take place during the general election.
But then, you might have forgotten about the schedule of an election, so here’s a brief rundown of what needs to happen before we stay up late to watch Yam Ah Mee announce the results:
Parliament Dissolves & Writ of Election Issued
This is the first step—when this happens the election has to take place as we would be kind of without a Government. According to The Straits Times, experts claim that this day could occur on 24 June 2020.
During the next few days, potential candidates like Shirwin Eu or Han Han Han—I mean, Hui Hui Hui—can collect their nomination papers and prepare for the next day: Nomination Day.
The Nomination Day has to take place within the next 5 to 31 days.
On this day, prospective candidates would hand in their papers and let others inspect. If all things go well, they can then talk to their supporters—it’s usually a day filled with lots of actions and plot twists, like a candidate writing his name wrongly and got disqualified. Experts claim this will happen on 1 July 2020.
It’s after this day that candidates can start campaigning, and this will be at least 9 days and 1 Cooling-Off Day.
After a lot of shouting and lorries waking us up, we’d reach the day: Polling Day.
Experts predict that this will happen on 11 July 2020—once again, a Saturday. Well, at least by then, bubble tea shops are open.
These events would still happen, but unlike previous elections, the way they’re conducted would be a tad different.
Actually, very different.
Here are the facts summarised and simplified for you.
No Mention of How Different Nomination Day Would Be
In today’s announcement, there’s no mention about how Nomination Day would be conducted, though.
However, ELD mentioned that physical election campaigning guidelines will depend on the COVID-19 situation. Nomination Day does feel like campaigning: just take a look at this video and drool at how lives used to be so simple and everyone has a mouth:
They said, “As these activities involve large group gatherings, the guidelines will depend on the COVID-19 situation at the time. ELD will therefore share these guidelines at a later date.”
Which brings us to the days before Polling Day…
How is Campaigning Going to be Like?
Well, this is dependent on the COVID-19 situation.
“If social distancing measures allow 10 persons to congregate, then we will allow walkabouts, subject of course to safe distancing requirements. But if the guideline is such that it’s only five, then we have to decide what (this means) in terms of walkabouts.”
Currently, the plan is that when Phase Two kicks in, the maximum number of people allowed to gather is five.
(And you need just one driver to drive a lorry around the neighbourhood)
The ELD said they would share the guidelines as soon as they have “some clarity”.
Needless to say, this means candidates would most probably be campaigning online, and here’s the thing:
Total Transparency in Online Ads
We now know a country’s elections can be influenced by another country through the Internet.
I mean, if even Mark Zuckerberg agrees, no one can disagree.
This new rule isn’t imposed due to COVID-19, but something that has been in the works—not just the ELD but social media platforms such as Facebook as well.
Basically, anyone who advertises online needs to declare how much is spent on the ads, who is funding the ads and the name of the person or party. Facebook is already doing that (yes, bet you didn’t know that you can go to a Facebook Page to check out what ads they’re running), but this time, the information will be declared to the ELD and published on the ELD website.
This means everyone would know how much a party spent on sponsored posts in Facebook, Instagram and even TikTok.
ELD said, “By strengthening disclosure requirements behind the use of paid IEA (Internet election advertising), the amendments will enhance accountability and better safeguard the integrity of the electoral process.”
So if a candidate decides to engage an influencer, that has to be declared publicly, and we can finally see how much an influencer charges.
Reader Bao: I can’t believe you’re thinking of that instead of thinking of election frauds
Isn’t that what you’re interested in as well?
And now that we’re done with the campaigning, here’s the day we’ve been waiting for: Polling Day.
Voting Windows Will Be Allocated
Unlike previous elections whereby we can go to the polls whenever we want, we can’t do that now: our polling card will have a two-hour window for us to vote on that period, and we’re encouraged to go during that period to spread out the crowd.
Elderly voters above the age of 65 will have two-hour windows from 8am to 12pm, and they can go with a household member.
The rest of us are supposed to go alone or with other voters—non-voters won’t be allowed into the polling stations.
Safety Measures in Polling Stations
For a start, don’t go and vote if you’re sick. Your name will still be removed from the Registers of Electors, but it can be restored for the next election without penalty.
Your temperature would be taken when you join the queue, and you can bring your own pen to the station. Just don’t draw turtles on the ballot paper.
Masks are still compulsory, and there’s an additional protection: gloves. You’d need to sanitise your hands and put on disposable gloves, which will be given to you, before you receive the ballot paper.
The usual safe distancing measures, which we’re all too familiar with now, will apply. More polling stations will also be available, from an initial 880 to 1,100.
Website to Check for Queue
You can now check how crowded a polling station is with this website:
I know it’s not satisfied now, but come polling day, it will be.
Or so I hope.
Voting for People on SHN
You can’t have bak kut teh in a hawker centre when you’re on SHN, but you’d still be able to vote if you’re serving it in a designated facility via special polling stations.
It’s unknown what’s the arrangement for people who can’t leave the house, like one who’s on an SHN at home, on quarantine order or have a five-day MC yet.
In case you’re wondering why we can’t vote online, you might want to watch this video we’ve done (and also subscribe to our YouTube channel for more informative and entertaining videos):