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The Elections Department (ELD) is a department of the government of Singapore under the Prime Minister's Office that oversees the procedure for elections in Singapore, including parliamentary elections and presidential elections. It sees that elections are fairly carried out and has a supervisory role to safeguard against electoral fraud. It has the power to create constituencies and redistrict them, with the justification of preventing malapportionment.
The elections department was established under the Chief Secretary's Office in 1947 when Singapore was a British Crown Colony. The department was subsequently placed under the Ministry of Home Affairs, followed by the Deputy Prime Minister's Office, and is currently under the Prime Minister's Office.
Presidential and parliamentary electionsEdit
The department is responsible for the preparation and management of the Presidential and Parliamentary elections and any national referendum in Singapore. Although the President of Singapore has the authority to create group representation constituencies (GRC) from several electoral wards, the Elections Department is generally the government authority which advises the President on which constituencies are created, and which constituencies are redistricted.
Political Donations ActEdit
The ELD has under its purview the Registry of Political Donations (RPD) since 2003. It is responsible for the administration of the Political Donations Act and campaign spending rules. The main objective of RPD is to prevent foreign funding and potential interference in the domestic politics of Singapore.
Between elections, ELD must ensure that the registers of electors are kept up-to-date. Other responsibilities include the training of election officials, logistical management of election events, informing the public about the electoral system and voting processes and ensuring that all electors have access to the electoral system and voting processes.
The ELF also provides secretariat support to the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee and election committees such as the Presidential Elections Committee and the Community Committee.
The opposition parties in the politics of Singapore question whether there are true, clear separation of powers between the current ruling party of Singapore, the People's Action Party (PAP), and the Elections Department, which is supposed to be a neutral and impartial entity.
Singapore Elections Department is a branch under the Prime Minister's Office. The Electoral Boundaries Review Committee is appointed by the Prime Minister; the committee includes a mix of top civil servants and is chaired by the secretary to the Prime Minister. The committee is responsible for the drawing of polling districts and polling sites with pinpoint precision before every election, without the need for Parliamentary approval. Under section 8(1) of the Parliamentary Elections Act, the incumbent Prime Minister may, "from time to time, by notification in the Gazette, specify the names and boundaries of the electoral divisions of Singapore for purposes of elections under this Act".
The absence of an independent electoral commission to manage elections is a subject that has been brought up by many opposition parties. This, the opposition argues, leads to intentional carrying out of gerrymandering on behalf of the PAP, like in the cases of Cheng San GRC and Eunos GRC being redrawn into other constituencies, or single-member-constituencies such as Joo Chiat SMC being absorbed into bigger GRCs after close electoral fights. It is unlike an Electoral Commission in most other Commonwealth countries which is clearly independent of the ruling government. The redrawing of GRCs shortly before each election has been mocked on a widespread basis on social media, satirical and socio-political websites, as well as in theatre.
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