Sep 17, 2013

    Ballot-box find: Integrity of election process not affected

    THE recent discovery of used empty ballot boxes does not constitute a lapse in procedures that ensure the integrity of the election process, said Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing yesterday.

    Investigations by police so far have also not shown any breach of the Presidential Elections Act relating to the tampering of ballot boxes before and while in use, Mr Chan added.

    Five boxes believed to be used in the 2011 Presidential Election were found by students in a school, leading the Elections Department to lodge a police report, said The Sunday Times on Sept 1.

    On concern raised in Parliament over any lapses in election procedures, Mr Chan described how ballot boxes are inspected before use, sealed after ballot papers have been cast, and transported under police escort (see sidebar).

    At the counting centres, boxes are checked to ensure they have not been tampered with, before the seals are broken and ballot papers are poured out, sorted and counted. The emptied boxes are also checked to ensure that they are empty before they are put aside with other discarded material.

    A contractor appointed by the Elections Department will collect empty ballot boxes for disposal, a day after Polling Day. If the contractor cannot collect the items then, they would be locked in a storeroom for collection another day.

    "This arrangement has been in place for years over several elections without issue," Mr Chan said, adding that the recently found boxes suggested "an oversight by working personnel on the ground".

    He has directed the Elections Department to study how a similar incident can be prevented.

    The department also checked with all 164 schools used as counting centres, and found several such disused boxes in the stores of five schools. These will be collected for disposal.