FOR the first time, the Elections Department (ELD) will announce "sample count" results for each of the 29 constituencies not long after polling closes on Sept 11, to give the public an early indication of the final results.
One reason for this move is to prevent unnecessary speculation and reliance on unofficial sources of information before all the votes are tallied and the final results are announced.
The ELD has done sample counts in previous general elections; the process was made known to candidates and their polling agents during the last presidential election in August 2011.
The sample count will be carried out at the start of the counting at all 163 counting centres across Singapore; this will happen soon after the polls close at 8pm.
A total of 100 ballot papers from each of the 832 polling stations will be randomly chosen by a counting assistant in the presence of the candidates and their counting agents. The votes will be added up and weighted accordingly to account for the difference in the number of votes cast at each polling station.
The sample count for each constituency will be shown as a percentage of valid votes garnered by each candidate or group of candidates.
After the assistant returning officer records the votes, the result of the sample count will be announced and published on the ELD's website - even as counting progresses.
As there are fewer voters in single-seat wards, the sample count results for these constituencies are expected to be released first, at around 10pm.
The sample count is useful as it enables officials to check against the final results, said a spokesman on Wednesday.
The numbers are said to be fairly indicative of the possible outcome for a constituency; sample counts typically have a confidence level of 95 per cent, plus or minus four percentage points.
But because the sample counts are not conclusive, the ELD has advised the public to wait until the election's returning officer, Energy Market Authority chief Ng Wai Choong, announces the official results on 'live' TV.
As at Aug 25, when the writ of election was issued, 2,462,926 citizens were eligible to vote, including the 4,868 who can vote at one of 10 overseas polling stations. All will receive their poll cards before Polling Day.
One change that will be made to the ballot paper, which voters will get at the polling station to mark their choice, is that it will include photos of the candidates, so voters can identify their preferred choice more readily.
The ballot papers for a group representation constituency, which can feature as many as 12 photos, will be about 30 per cent larger than those used in the last general election in May 2011.
It is understood that all 181 candidates standing for election - 89 from the People's Action Party, 90 from various opposition parties and two independents - have submitted their photos in time to be used for the ballot papers.
The ballot papers will feature white boxes against a dark background, with wider gaps between the boxes to prevent voters from marking across the boxes.