On March 13, changes to Singapore's election borders were announced.
A new Sengkang GRC (Group Represented Constituency) and four new SMCs (Single Member Constituency), Kebun Baru, Marymount, Punggol West and Yio Chu Kang, have emerged.
On the other hand, three existing SMCs Fengshan, Punggol East and Sengkang West will be removed.
Ang Mo Kio and Pasir Ris-Punggol, the two largest GRCs with six members each, will be reduced to five members, while the GRCs on the east and west coast will be increased from four to five members.
As a rule, this division of the electoral departments marks the first step, which unfolds a series of events before election day.
Once this announcement is released, all of Singapore will be mentally prepared for the upcoming general election (GE).
But what exactly happens until then? If you are not sure about the electoral process in Singapore, here is an overview that will make it easier for you to understand.
Report of the Election Borders Review Committee
Photo credit: Singapore Electoral Division
A few months ago, before reading the news about updated electoral limits, a committee was formed to propose these changes to prepare for the upcoming GE.
This is known as the Election Border Verification Committee (EBRC), which is made up of five officials appointed by the Prime Minister.
They are called together to review current electoral departments and to discuss whether changes are required based on how voter populations have changed since the last election.
The EBRC submits its report to parliament, after which its recommendations can be adopted and made publicly available.
The parliament is dissolved
Photo credit: Singapore Parliament
After that, the entire parliamentary term really begins when the president dissolves the parliament on the advice of the prime minister.
The President will then issue the election letter, a document stating the date and place for the nomination of the candidates.
This election certificate officially instructs the returnee to hold an election.
The nomination day is five days to one month after the election letter has been issued.
On the nomination day, hopeful candidates must personally submit their nomination papers and certificates to the returnee between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m.
They also have to pay an optional deposit (8 percent of the allowances paid to MPs last year) before submitting their nominations.
At 12 noon, candidates have half an hour to review each other's applications and to raise any objections to the returnee.
When the nomination is closed, SMCs with more than one nominated candidate and GRCs with more than one nominated group of candidates will be contested.
If only one candidate or group of candidates remains nominated in an SMC or GRC, they win by default (also known as a walkover).
Notice of Controversial choice
After all candidates have been confirmed, the returnee will issue a notice of the controversial election.
This informs the public about the candidates running for each SMC and GRC, the date of the election day and the locations of all polling stations.
The election day must be between 10 and 56 days after the notification is given.
Photo credit: Chua Chin Hon
Candidates can start campaigning immediately after the contested election is announced.
During this time, they can obtain permission from the police commissioner to hold rallies. You can also advertise online through platforms such as apps, websites, forums and social media.
The campaign ends one day before election day. This is known as the cooling-off day, a 24-hour rest period that is intended to enable voters to think about questions raised.
Photo credit: Reuters
On election day, qualified voters go to their polling stations to cast their votes at any time between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. The election day is legally a public holiday.
Singaporeans who are abroad and have registered as foreign voters also cast their votes.
Due to time differences, they may start voting earlier than Singapore voters, but overseas elections must be closed before the Singapore election ends.
After the polling stations have closed, the ballot boxes are sealed and transported to their respective counting centers.
The counting process begins with a sample count in order to give an early indication of the possible result for each electoral department.
The votes are counted in the presence of the candidates or their counting agents. In the event that the difference in the number of votes between two parties is 2 percent or less, the candidates can request a recount.
After the votes are consolidated, the returnee decides whether the votes will affect the results overseas.
If foreign votes may change the outcome in a particular SMC or GRC, the returnee declares that the results will not be conclusive for that department until foreign votes have been returned to Singapore and counted.
In departments where overseas polls have no impact on the outcome, the returnee can immediately declare which candidate or candidates have been chosen.
The final results will be published in the Singapore Government Gazette.
Elected candidates form the parliament
Elected candidates for each electoral department will take their seats as MPs.
If a political party holds more than 50 percent of the seats in parliament, that party's deputies form the government of Singapore.
If there is no political party that holds more than 50 percent of the seats in parliament, two or more parties can form a coalition government, or a smaller party can form a minority government.
Selected image source: Gov.sg / Vulcan Post