TL;DR – Yeps, PM Lee kept his word and gave us smaller GRCs and more SMCs.
The Elections Department has released the White Paper on the Report of the Electoral Boundaries Review today, and many see this as a signal that General Elections is near. The report shows that the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC) has recommended the adoption of 31 electoral districts which will see 14 SMCs and 17 GRCs.
What is interesting is that the Committee has done away with the bigger GRCs, which has been a major complaint from the opposition parties. Yeps, this is a Government that keeps its word.
Back in early 2016, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had already said in Parliament that “the next General Election will see smaller group representation constituencies (GRCs) on average and more single member constituencies (SMCs).
As promised, he has given the instructions to the EBRC and the committee has carried out the review accordingly.
Now, let’s have a look at the process and sequence of events for Singapore’s General Elections in four easy steps.
1. Convening the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC)
The process kickstarts with the convening of the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC).
The EBRC is responsible for reviewing the present electoral divisions and to recommend any changes to these electoral boundaries before a GE. Yeps, the EBRC decides on the number of Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs) and Single Member Constituencies (SMCs), and also the boundaries to contest in the upcoming elections. They would also look into changes in the number and distribution of registered voters, comparing current numbers and situation with the last elections, taking into account the population shifts and housing developments? This is so that there is even distribution of voters among polling districts.
The EBRC comprises 5 civil servants and is headed by the Secretary to the Prime Minister.
The EBRC Committee Report has just been released today (13 March 2020), and this is a signal that the GE may be close.
2. Dissolving Parliament and issuing a Writ of Election
After the electoral boundaries have been drawn, and on the advice of the Prime Minister, the President will dissolve Parliament and issue a Writ of Election to the Returning Officer. The Returning Office is the official appointed for overseeing the election process.
The Writ of Election must specify the date(s) of the nomination as well as the place(s) of nomination. One thing to note is that the date(s) of nomination must be more than 5 days but less than 1 month after the date of the Writ.
3. Nomination Day
Nomination Day is the day the candidates submit their nomination papers and whatever else required to the Returning Office.
What is quite surprising (to me lah, LOL!) is that the nomination is only open for an hour, from 11am to 12 noon.
And yeps, there’s an election deposit involved, and amount is set at 8% of the total allowances payable to Members of Parliament (MPs) in the preceding year, rounded to the nearest $500.
If there is only one candidate or one group of candidates in the event of a GRC for a certain electoral division as at 12 noon on nomination day, then the candidate(s) will be declared elected. This is what we also refer to us as a walkover.
For all nominations, there need to be proposers and seconders and some other details. If any of these information is inaccurate or incomplete, then the nomination will not be accepted.
4. ZZANG! Polling Day
Registered voters will go to their alloted polling stations to cast their votes any time between 8am to 8pm.
Here’s a handy graphic from Straits Times,
There will be a total of 31 electoral divisions, comprising 14 SMCs and 17 GRCs, with a total of 93 MPs.
In case you’re wondering which electoral division you fall under, you can just enter your postal code here,