SINGAPORE has been studying electronic voting but has no plans to introduce it yet, said the Elections Department yesterday.
It was responding to recent reports in the Indian media which said Singapore was one of several countries to have shown an interest in buying electronic voting machines from Indian company Bharat Electronics.
The department told The Straits Times it had studied the electronic voting systems used in the elections of some countries since 2000.
‘In 2003, we approached Bharat Electronics Limited to study the electronic voting machines used in the India elections,’ it said in an e-mail reply.
‘To date, no decision has been taken yet on when electronic voting will be implemented in our elections and which electronic voting system will be used,’ it added.
Electronic voting is not a new issue. It was debated in Parliament in 2001 when the Parliamentary Elections Act was amended to provide for it.
With the change, any direct recording electronic voting system – one which directly records a vote – must be approved by the Auditor-General or someone appointed by the minister in consultation with him.
The system must also allow for voting in secret and be safe from fraudulent use, among other requirements.
The Government said then that it might want to try electronic voting in some wards, but ruled it out later that year, citing concerns over the security of the system.
Yesterday, the Elections Department said it had not approached any other companies about their machines.
However, its staff have been given demonstrations by Bharat, which was set up by the Indian government in 1954 to meet the needs of its defence services, but which now produces a range of electronic products.
It is one of two public-sector companies manufacturing electronic voting machines for India’s Election Commission, which has over one million machines.
Bharat’s voting machines are in use in Nepal and Bhutan, and during the current Indian elections.
Apart from Singapore, other countries which have approached Bharat include Malaysia, Mauritius, Namibia, South Africa and Sri Lanka, the Press Trust of India (PTI) reported last week.
Bharat spokesman Naveen Namboodiri told PTI it had customised the machines to meet the electoral requirements of various countries and had given demonstrations to them.
‘Further negotiations are on to address their concerns since the electronic voting machines will change the electoral process,’ he told PTI.
Bharat’s machines are standalone ones that do not have to be connected to any network.
PTI reported that they are also tamper-proof and hasten vote counting.