The Elections Department of Singapore (ELD), known exonymously as the Elections Department, is a department under the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) of the Government of Singapore which are responsible for overseeing the procedure for elections in Singapore, including parliamentary elections, presidential elections and referendums.
|Jurisdiction||Government of Singapore|
|Headquarters||11 Novena Rise, Singapore 307516|
1°19′30″N 103°50′40″E / 1.325073°N 103.844576°ECoordinates: 1°19′30″N 103°50′40″E / 1.325073°N 103.844576°E
|Annual budget||S$52 million (2020)|
|Parent department||Prime Minister's Office|
First established in 1947, 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. After independence in 1965, 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. In 2003, the Department was expanded to include the Registry of Political Donations. In 2021, the department merged its corporate office and training centre into one central location at 11 Novena Rise.
|Year||Office Location||Operated Under||Key Milestone|
Today's Fullerton Hotel
|Colonial Secretary's Office|
|1948||City Council Election|
|Singapore Improvement Trust Building
Today's Fullerton Hotel
|1955||First Legislative Assembly General Election|
|Chief Secretary's Office|
Fort Canning Rise
(building has been demolished)
|Ministry of Home Affairs|
|Empress Place Building
Today's Asian Civilisations Museum
|Deputy Prime Minister's Office|
|Elections Department Building
|1968||First Parliamentary General Election|
|Prime Minister's Office|
St. Andrew Road
Today's National Gallery Singapore
Today's Temasek Tower
|1993||First Presidential Election|
|Elections Department Building
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.
Registry of ElectorsEdit
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 provides secretariat support to the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee and election committees such as the Presidential Elections Committee and the Community Committee.
ELD is also responsible for:
- Training election officials,
- Planning for election manpower, premises, logistical and other related requirements for the conduct of elections
- Informing the public about the electoral system and voting processes
- Ensuring all electors have access to the electoral system and voting processes
- Administering the Political Donations Act and campaign spending rules
Opposition parties such as the Workers Party (WP) and the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) in the politics of Singapore has questioned 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. The absence of an independent electoral commission to manage elections is a subject that has been brought up by many opposition parties.
The 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 opposition argues that the lack of an independent commission results in a higher chance of gerrymandering on behalf of the PAP, by bringing up examples of Eunos GRC after the 1991 Singaporean general election and Cheng San GRC after the 1997 Singaporean general election being redrawn into other constituencies, or single-member-constituencies such as Joo Chiat SMC after the 2011 Singaporean general election being absorbed into bigger GRCs after close electoral fights. However, during the 2020 Singaporean general election, Sengkang GRC, a newly created constituency by the Elections Department, was immediately lost by the governing PAP to the WP. Furthermore, opposition-held constituencies are left undisturbed by the Elections Department; for example, Hougang SMC has remained under the same boundaries since 1991, after the WP won its seat at the general election that year and in subsequent elections ever since.
The redrawing of constituencies shortly before each election are often satirised by Singaporeans on social media, satirical and socio-political websites, as well as in theatre especially during election season.
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