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Self-inking pens, new polling booths among changes for Singapore's next general election

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The Elections Department (ELD) will introduce a number of changes in the upcoming polls, including self-inking pens and new polling booths.

[SINGAPORE] The Elections Department (ELD) will introduce a number of changes in the upcoming polls, including self-inking pens and new polling booths.

Candidates will also be able to fill in most of the required paperwork online. These include appointing their election agents, paying their election deposits, and preparing their nomination papers.

However, hard copies of nomination papers must still be submitted on Nomination Day.

The Electoral Boundaries Review Committee was convened in August, marking the first step towards the next general election, which must be held by April 2021.

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In the past three general elections under Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the period between the announcement of the committee's formation and Polling Day has ranged between two and six months.

The new self-inking pens, which have been used in countries such as South Korea, allow voters to easily stamp an "X" for the party of their choice. 

The ELD said it made the decision to change the pens provided after feedback that some older voters had difficulty gripping regular pens to cast their votes.

Voters in certain constituencies will also see prototype polling booths made largely from cardboard and other recyclable materials.

Designed by students from the Singapore Institute of Technology, the new booths cost S$30 each. In comparison, the old booths, which are used for around 12 years before being replaced, cost about S$750.

The ELD will hold roadshows ahead of the next general election to familiarise voters with the new equipment.

The latest changes come on the back of an announcement by the ELD last year, in which it said voters will be able to register electronically at polling stations and have their votes tallied by counting machines.

However, hard copy ballot papers will continue to be used, and counting assistants will still handle the mixing, unfolding and sorting of the papers.

The department will also organise sessions for political party representatives to try out the new digital services and provide feedback.

However, the actual system will be open for use only after the Writ of Election has been issued for security reasons.

THE STRAITS TIMES