SINGAPORE: Voters who are in quarantine or under stay orders due to COVID-19 will be able to vote outside of their electoral districts in the upcoming General Election, in special provisions introduced for the next election, said the Elections Department (ELD) on Tuesday (Apr 7).

The Parliamentary Elections (COVID-19 Special Arrangements) Bill was introduced in Parliament on Tuesday, ELD said in a press release.

“This Bill forms part of ELD’s contingency planning for the next GE, which has to be held by 14 April 2021,” it added. “The provisions in the Bill are temporary arrangements, and will only apply to the next GE, and not to any election held after the stipulated date.”

READ: Government to table Bill to ensure ‘safe’ General Election if held during COVID-19 outbreak

Electors who are subject to COVID-19 stay orders will be allowed to vote outside of their electoral divisions, such as at designated facilities they are housed in under the proposed provisions. 

This ensures that voters on stay orders will not mingle with other voters while voting, said ELD.

An aspiring candidate may also authorise a representative to file his nomination paper on his behalf, if he is on a COVID-19 quarantine order or stay order, hospitalised or ill.

Currently, the Parliamentary Elections Act requires aspiring candidates to file nomination papers in person.

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The Bill allows ELD to implement temporary arrangements to ensure the safety of voters, candidates and election officials, should the next General Election take place amid the COVID-19 situation, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing in response to media queries on the Bill. ​​​

“This Bill forms part of ELD’s contingency planning for the next GE.  It is not related to the timing of the General Election. The Prime Minister will decide when to call the election, taking into account the challenges confronting our country, including the evolving COVID-19 situation,” ​​​​he said.

“The Government is fully focussed on tackling COVID-19. Our immediate priorities include helping affected Singaporeans and companies, and implementing the circuit breaker measures to slow down the outbreak.” 

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said that the timing of the next General Election depends “on the situation, and the outlook” of the pandemic.

“We have two choices. Either hope and pray that things will stabilise before the end of the term so that we can hold elections under more normal circumstances – but we have no certainty of that,” he wrote on Mar 14.

His comments came a day after changes to the electoral boundaries were announced by the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee on Mar 13.

He later said on Mar 27 that no decision has yet been made as to when a General Election will be called.

“I would not rule any possibility out,” he had said.

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