Explaining the Singapore General Election process in 4 points

Last updated on August 8, 2015

1. The Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC)

The election process starts with the convening of the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC), which is responsible for reviewing the present electoral divisions and to recommend any changes to these electoral boundaries before a GE. Therefore, the EBRC determines the number and boundaries of Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs) and Single Member Constituencies (SMCs) to contest in the upcoming elections, taking into consideration any changes in the number and distribution of registered voters in the present electoral divisions caused by population shifts and housing developments since the last elections. This is to ensure even distribution of voters among polling districts.

The Prime Minister forms the EBRC, which comprises 5 civil servants and is headed by the Secretary to the Prime Minister.

In latest news, the EBRC Committee Report was released on 24 July 2015, indicating that the upcoming GE may be close.

2. Dissolving Parliament and issuing a Writ of Election

After the drawing of the electoral boundaries, the President of Singapore will, on the advice of the Prime Minister, dissolve Parliament and issue a Writ of Election to the Returning Officer pursuant to Section 24 of the Parliamentary Elections Act (“PEA”). The Returning Officer is the official responsible for overseeing the entire election process.

The Writ of Election must specify:

(1)     the date(s) of nomination, which is limited to more than 5 days but less than 1 month after the date of the Writ; and

(2)    the place(s) of nomination.

After the Writ of Election has been issued, the Returning Officer will, pursuant to Section 25 PEA and Form 8 of the First Schedule, give notice of:

(1)    the issue of the writ;

(2)    the day, time and place of the nomination of candidates; and

(3)    details as to the nomination papers of persons seeking election.

3. Nomination Day

On the nomination day, candidates are required to present their nomination papers and relevant certificates (only applicable for GRCs) to the Returning Officer from 11 a.m. until 12 noon at the place of nomination specified in the Writ of Election: Section 29 PEA. The payment of an election deposit – a sum equal to the 8% of the total allowances payable to Members of Parliament (MPs) in the preceding year, rounded to the nearest $500 – must be made prior to the submission of the nomination papers.

If only one candidate or one group of candidates stands nominated for an electoral division at 12 noon of the nomination day, that nominated candidate or group of candidates will be declared elected. If more than one candidate or group of candidates stands nominated for an electoral division at 12 noon of the nomination day, that division which is being contested will be considered up for polling. Pursuant to Section 34(6) PEA, the Returning Officer will revert with the notice of contested elections stipulating:

(1)    the date and time of polling for the contested electoral division;

(2)    names of candidates, their symbols, proposers and seconders; and

(3)    the names and locations of all polling stations.

Candidates can campaign during the period starting from the notice of the contested election is issued, up to the start of the eve of Polling Day (otherwise known as Cooling-off Day).

4. Polling Day

On Polling Day, registered voters of a contested constituency go to their allotted polling stations to cast their votes at any time between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Pursuant to Section 35 PEA, Polling Day at any GE is a public holiday.