I have always wondered how the Elections Department of Singapore (ELD) which is a department of the Prime Minister’s Office shift boundaries of constituencies and even disappear some constituencies. Anson was one constituency that disappeared soon after it was won by opposition leader, Mr J.B. Jeyaretnam in the by election of 1981 and then the general election in 1984.

The loss of Anson after 16 years of uninterrupted solo control of parliament was unacceptable by the prime minister. Anson was therefore wiped out in the general election of 1988 even though the PAP had a couple of years before built a splendid Peranakan styled community centre for the residents. It was a cowardly act but who cares? After all, winning is the most important part of politics and governing without any opposition is ideal because it could do whatever it likes and cover up any embarrassing mistakes.

Thus with the intent of learning how gerrymandering is done, I volunteered to be a polling and counting agent at the recent Presidential Election (PE). I have written about my experience as a polling agent in a nursing home. Now I write about being a counting agent.


There were 2,709,455 registered voters and 215 counting centres. That worked out to an average of about 12,602 votes to be counted at each counting centre. The actual number was smaller as only 93.41% actually voted.

I was a counting agent at Bedok Green Secondary School (Bedok Green). With me was Mr John Tan. We arrived at the school before 7.30pm as we wanted to witness the testing of the counting machines. Unlike commercial banks with solid counting machines, the ELD’s machines were flimsy and slightly bigger than the hand. Place a stack of mock and numbered ballot papers into the slot, tighten the plastic clip and press the button. The machine starts flapping the paper. Sometimes it stalled and the officer had to re-start the process. The number of paper counted is reflected on the machine. If the machine and the numbering of the paper tally, then it is in order. The quantity that can be counted is about 100. Thirteen machines were thus tested. After some difficulties, the machines were all certified as good for use.

It is funny that the ELD bought 13 flimsy machines instead of perhaps 2 good quality machines that can reliably count more than a few hundred votes at a time and last more than ten years.

Bedok Green has 4 large tables marked A, B, C and D. Each table was allocated to count the votes of one polling station. One polling station can serve the voters of a particular estate or a few blocks of flats. The total number of votes at each polling station is between 2,000 to 3,000. (This figure is derived by dividing the total number of voters and the total number of polling stations). Thus it is not difficult to know from each table, how many voters from several blocks voted. Extrapolate this to a general election. The prime minister would know exactly how blocks of flats or estates voted. Voters of blocks of flats or condominiums that voted for the opposition can thus be shifted to a constituency where the majority had voted for the PAP. The votes become diluted and the chances of the PAP winning would be secured.

Gerrymandering is super easy for the ELD as the number of voters at each polling station is at most about 3,000 and clearly identified at the counting centres. The only uncertainties lie in new estates with new voters who are children of Singaporeans. I suspect new citizens will vote for the PAP.

In Bedok Green, each of the 4 tables counted between 2,000 to slightly over 3,000 votes. The total counted was 11,350. This number excluded all invalid votes. I suspect each counting centre has about this number of votes.

This presidential election will add some statistics for the ELD to fine tune the voting pattern of General Election 2020 and gerrymander for the coming election. For the opposition parties, I don’t know if they have statistics culled from the Presidential and General Election of 2020. I doubt they have counting agents for all the counting centres to record the numbers and analyse how they voted in the last General Election. In this PE, civil society promised to produce a report on the voting pattern. Let’s see what comes out of it.


Incidentally, the sample count is derived from randomly picking out 100 valid votes from each table. It is pretty accurate.

I encourage every citizen to participate in the coming general election. Be a polling or counting agent for any candidate. It will be good if the opposition is able to field polling and counting agents for the whole of Singapore and analyse the numbers.


Teo Soh Lung




3 Responses to “Gerrymandering”

  • Trust only myself:

    Very surprise an opposition candidate need to be polling and counting agent to see first hand then understand why in every GE there is always new SMC, GRC, change in boundaries etc…..

    If this is the caliber of opposition candidates, then better close shop…….

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  • opposition dude:

    Aiyah let them gerrymander loh, what can we do other than make noise about it? They ever play fair or not I ask you?

    Gerrymander……….and still lose ah ha ha ha ha ha! Never gerry enough for Sengkang it seems. And also for East Coast (they probably know they are going to lose it so no point to gerry). West Coast let’s see if they got balls to keep it or they do the usual cut it all up to be absorbed into other wards.

    It’s obvious where they got strong support and where the support isn’t so fantastic lah. You can gerry all you want but if you are going to lose it then nothing you do will change that. In the past it worked very well for them together with all the numerous walkovers for a couple of elections until 2011.

    Since then we have seen that support for them is, at best, in the low 60% range. They don’t even dare brag and boast that they are aiming for 75% liao, they just say they were hoping (hoping? PAP hoping? WOW!!) for 65% after the result of the last election.

    Let’s see how much of a decline there will be in the next election lah. After all it will be hled after December’s fare hike and January’s GST increase so let the anger all boil up and see how voters vote!

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  • rice:

    Gerrymeandering plus GRC plus POFMA = Boh Lampar.
    Kiasi,Kiasu plus Kia-oppo.

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