Many Singaporeans harbour the misconception that their vote during elections is not secret. I’ve talked to many people, both educated and less educated, and the overwhelming majority seem to think this way. This is despite the fact that at every election, the Elections Department takes pains to communicate to voters two main points: Voting is compulsory, and voting is secret. I guess this is a point that Singaporeans just refuse to believe our government about.
It is even more unfortunate that some persist in perpetuating this urban myth, which only serves to strike more fear into the hearts of Singaporeans who are thinking of voting for the opposition. A letter in Temasek Review today exhorted Singaporeans to spoil their votes because, the writer reasoned, then the PAP won’t “mark” you for voting against them and if there are enough invalid votes, it will indirectly increase the opposition’s share of the valid vote.
This is wrong on many counts. I’ll highlight just two: Firstly, the PAP does not know which party you voted for, so they won’t know who to “mark”, even if they wanted to. Secondly, invalid votes do not factor in the final count, which is based on valid votes. This means that if there were 10 votes–six for the PAP, three for the opposition and one spoiled–the final tally is 66.6 per cent to the PAP (six divided by nine, with the spoiled vote excluded), not 60 per cent.
Let’s be very clear: YOUR VOTE IS SECRET. I will take you through the whole balloting process to see why: