SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/ANN): Singaporeans serving stay-home notices (SHN) will be able to leave their homes to vote at their assigned polling stations on Polling Day, but can do so only during a one-hour slot.
In announcing the voting arrangements for the July 10 polls -- which is happening amid the Covid-19 pandemic -- the Elections Department (ELD) said that a special voting hour between 7pm and 8pm will be set aside for certain groups of voters. They include those on medical leave for acute respiratory infection, and those who are detected with a temperature of 37.5 deg C and higher at polling stations on Polling Day.
The arrangements would minimise these people's contact with others, while still allowing them to exercise their right to vote, the ELD said on Wednesday (July 1).
Covid-19 patients and those who are on quarantine orders, however, will not be allowed to vote, to reduce the risk of community transmission. There are about 350 voters in these two groups as of Tuesday.
The ELD had consulted the Ministry of Health on the voting arrangements, and permission has been granted for those on 14-day SHN at home and on medical leave for acute respiratory infection to leave their homes to vote during the special voting hour. As of Tuesday, there are about 360 voters serving their SHN at home.
"They should disregard, and not go to vote at the recommended time-band indicated on their poll cards," said the ELD, adding that they will be turned away if they show up during regular voting hours and be asked to return later.
These voters will have to abide by strict rules, including travelling to their assigned polling station directly and returning home immediately after voting.
They may walk or use their private vehicle, but should not take public transport. Those who require designated transport can book a taxi from the list of dedicated booking hotlines provided in their SHN.
In addition, those under SHN must call the SHN Helpline (6812-5555) before their departure to inform the authorities of their intention to leave home to vote.
During normal voting hours from 8am to 7pm, temperature checks will be done. Those found to be running a fever, with a body temperature of 37.5 deg C and higher, will not be allowed to enter and will be asked to return later.
During the special voting hour between 7pm and 8pm, there will be no temperature screening "since voters with fever are allowed to vote during this special voting hour", the ELD said. However, polling equipment, including the self-inking pens and contact surfaces, will be sanitised after each voter.
There will also be a smaller team of election officials manning the polling station. These officials will don full personal protective equipment (PPE).
Candidates and polling agents are allowed to observe during the allocated hour, but will not be required to wear the PPE "as they will not come into close contacts with voters", said the ELD.
Voters who are well are advised to stick to their recommended voting time-band, the ELD said. However, they will still be allowed to vote if they turn up during the special voting hour, as the law allows for voting from 8am to 8pm.
Polls will close at 8pm sharp, after which the ballot boxes will be sealed and delivered to their respective counting centres.
Those who are unable to vote because they are unwell can apply for their names to be restored to the Registers of Electors after the election, without any penalty.
For Covid-19 patients and those under quarantine orders or SHN, the ELD has their records, and their names will be automatically restored to the registers after the election without penalty. - The Straits Times/Asia News Network
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