This… is… DEMOCRACY!

CAUTION: This is Sparta!

So after the first round of the Singapore Presidential Election 2011 (PE2011) results came out last night, I posted this status update on Twitter and Facebook:

If there’s gonna be a recount, can I also recast my vote?

Subsequently, I received comments/@replies to do with breast-beating and vote-splitting.

I also had the pleasure of reading similar-sounding status updates around the same time.

To clarify, when I posted that update, I meant it as a tongue-in-cheek critique of the decision to proceed with the recount.

I was fully aware that a recasting of the vote was and is impossible (although I think a run-off vote might be a good idea in the future so that the candidate that is elected goes into office with the support of a clear and distinct majority).

What I meant was: look, if the difference was 100 votes, I’d wholeheartedly say yes to the recount. But if the difference was 7000 votes, how far off could the vote-counters have been?

Was it not a waste of the vote-counters’ and the electorate’s time with a decision that was logical in theory but not in practice?

Many people were complaining about how the vote had been split, and if Tan Jee Say and Tan Kin Lian hadn’t contested, Tan Cheng Bock wouldn’t’ve have had his vote share eroded, and he would’ve become the elected President instead.

I agree that the vote was split in that there were four candidates, so each candidate garnered a share of the vote, however large (or small) it might’ve been.

But to quote a friend on Facebook:

Democracy means I suck thumb and accept this Tan.

There were four candidates; we voted; the Tan of our choice didn’t get in – deal with it.

P.S. To preempt any criticism regarding the picture at the top of my post: yes, I’m also aware that Sparta used to be an oligarchy…

P.P.S. Yawning Bread and Yee Jenn Jong have quite interesting takes on PE2011.

“Your vote is secret”: Voting and ballot secrecy (Part II).

Pursuant (LOL) to my previous post on voting and ballot secrecy, I will now explain what the phrase “Your vote is secret” means.

Common misinterpretation (or myth):

You cannot tell anyone how you voted or how you intend to vote, because that’s a secret.


Correct interpretation:

  • Your vote/voting intention is only a secret if you want it to be a secret from everyone else.

  • You can tell people how you voted/how you intend to vote. There’s no law which mandates that you keep your vote/voting intention a secret.

    In fact, you should discuss your voting inclination as often as you can.

    Discussions of voting decisions, processes, etc. are always healthy and fruitful – so long as these discussions are conducted in a healthy manner, of course, with healthy people who are willing to listen to you, as opposed to, say, antagonising/intimidating/irritating/pooh-poohing you.

  • The only way to confirm how you actually voted would be to:

  1. Obtain a court order to open up the ballot boxes (and – mind you – there needs to be a good reason for this),
  2. Trace your polling card number to the voting slip number, then
  3. Find the correct voting slip hidden among the hundreds of voting slips in the ballot box.

Who is going to go to all that trouble?


Agagooga a.k.a. Gabriel Seah made a very insightful comment on Twitter about this:

One should vote holistically. If I had to agree with everything a party/candidate said I’d spoil my vote.

[SGE 2011] Rejected votes: A basic analysis.

Your vote is your voice: Be heard.

Thought I’d just take a basic/preliminary look at the rejected votes in this year’s General Elections because it’s something I’m curious about.

Based on data provided by ChannelNewsAsia:

  • Total percentage of rejected votes as a proportion of votes cast: 2%
  • Constituencies with lowest percentage of rejected votes:
    • Hougang: 1.13%
    • Aljunied: 1.34%
  • Constituency with highest percentage of rejected votes: Ang Mo Kio (3.01%)
  • Proportion of constituencies with rejected votes > national average of rejected votes: 16/26

What are some possible conclusions we can draw from this?

  • Perhaps voters in Hougang and Aljunied took voting the most seriously because:
    • These constituencies were the most hotly contested,
    • These constituencies were contested by the Workers’ Party (reinforced by the fact that all except one of the constituencies contested by the Workers’ Party had <2% of votes rejected).
  • Rejected votes in Ang Mo Kio: small proportion of voters who feel they don’t really have a choice, or perhaps are really clueless about how to vote.
  • If it’s the latter, then we can tackle this problem in relation to the fourth statistic I found:
    • Perhaps we need to be teaching our fellow citizens how to vote over the course of five years, instead of only doing so during the elections.
    • There also needs to be instructions at polling booths, because the rejected votes make a mockery of the voting process.

This is a basic analysis of the data, so I welcome more scrutiny/thoughts on the subject.