The citizens of Singapore in accordance with the legislations indicated below elect the President. The President shall be the Head of State and hold office for a term of 6 years. The first presidential election was held on 28 August 1993.
Legislations governing the conduct of the presidential election comprise:
- The Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (The Government, Part V (Chapter 1) - The President);
- The Presidential Elections Act (Chapter 240A);
- The Political Donations Act (Chapter 236); and
- related Subsidiary Legislations;
The Right to Vote
The registers of electors produced in accordance with the Parliamentary Elections Act which are in operation at the time of any election shall be conclusive evidence of a person’s right to vote at that election.
Conduct of Election
The presidential election has to be conducted as follows:
- within 6 months after the office of the President becomes vacant prior to the expiration of the term of office of the incumbent; or
- not more than 3 months before the date of expiration of the term of office of the incumbent.
Writ of Election
The Prime Minister will issue a writ under the public seal, addressed to the Returning Officer specifying:
- the date of nomination; and
Not less than 5 days nor more than one month after the date of the writ.
- the place of nomination.
Notice of Election
After the Prime Minister has issued the writ, the Returning Officer will issue a notice, at least 4 clear days before the Nomination Day, stipulating:
- the date, time and place for the nomination of candidates;
the nomination paper to be signed by:
- the candidate;
- the proposer;
- the seconder; and
- at least four assentors
The proposer’s, seconder’s and assentors' names must appear in any of the registers of electors in operation;
- the payment of deposit (a sum equal to 3 times the amount of deposit payable by a candidate under the Parliamentary Elections Act [section 28(1)]);
- Statutory declaration by the candidate of his qualifications and that on Nomination Day he is not a member of any political party;
- Political Donation Certificate issued by the Registrar of Political Donations; and
- Certificate of Eligibility issued by the Presidential Elections Committee.
Presidential Elections Committee
The function of the Presidential Elections Committee is to ensure that candidates for the office of President have the qualifications referred to in Article 19 of the Constitution. The Chairman of the Public Service Commission chairs the Committee, which comprises 2 other members - one is the Chairman of the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority and the other is a member of the Presidential Council for Minority Rights nominated by the Chairman of the Council.
Candidates are required to present their nomination papers and certificates to the Returning Officer, in duplicate and in person, at the nomination centre between 11 a.m. and 12 noon, accompanied by their proposer, seconder and at least 4 assentors.
At the close of the nomination, if only one candidate stands nominated, the Returning Officer will declare the nominated candidate elected to the office of President.
Where more than one candidate stands nominated, the Returning Officer will adjourn the election to a date where a poll will be taken, i.e. Polling Day. The Returning Officer will allot to each candidate an approved symbol.
Notice of Contested Election
The notice of contested election, issued by the Returning Officer, will specify:
- the date of the poll (not earlier than the 10th day, and not later than the 56th day after publication of the notice);
- the names of candidates, their symbols, proposers and seconders; and
- the locations of the polling stations.
Candidates can start campaigning after the notice of contested election is issued, up to the start of the day before Polling Day (which is the Cooling-Off Day). Candidates may also be given air-time by the television stations.
The campaigning activities are restricted to:
- conducting house-to-house visits;
- distributing pamphlets;
- putting up posters and banners;
- campaigning on perambulating vehicles;
- advertising on the Internet (within the confines of the rules regarding election advertising); and
- holding election rallies and meetings.
No candidate is allowed to advertise over television, in newspapers, magazines or periodicals, or in a public place, unless he is authorised to do so in accordance with the directions of the Returning Officer.
The maximum amount a candidate can spend on election expenses is $600,000 or an amount equal to 30 cents per elector on the registers of electors, whichever is the greater.
The eve of Polling Day is designated as Cooling-Off Day, a day when election campaigning is prohibited. This 24-hour campaign silence period is to give voters some time to reflect rationally on issues raised during the election before going to the polls.
There are some exceptions to the prohibition of campaign activities on Cooling-Off Day:
- Reports in the newspapers, on radio and television relating to election matters;
- Approved posters and banners that were already up, and lawful Internet advertising that was already published before the eve of Polling Day;
- Books previously scheduled for publication;
- The transmission of personal political views by individuals to other individuals, on a non-commercial basis, using the Internet, telephone or other electronic means; and
- Such activities or circumstances as may be prescribed by the Minister.
The above exception list also applies to Polling Day.
Persons, whose names are found in the registers of electors in operation will receive a poll card which will be mailed to their latest NRIC address well before Polling Day.
On Polling Day, they can go to their assigned polling stations to cast their votes any time between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.
After the close of the polls, the ballot boxes containing the votes cast will be sealed and transported to the respective counting centres.
Singapore citizens abroad who have been registered as overseas electors can cast their votes at the overseas polling stations allotted to them.
Polling overseas may take place before voting starts in Singapore but has to close before polling ends in Singapore. After an overseas poll is closed, the ballot boxes will be brought back to Singapore for counting and they must reach the Returning Officer not later than 10 days after Polling Day.
Counting of Votes
After the count, the Assistant Returning Officer will transmit the results of counting to the Returning Officer at the principal counting place. The Returning Officer will compile the results received from all counting centres in Singapore. If the overseas votes have no impact on the outcome of the election, the Returning Officer will declare the candidate to whom the greatest number of votes is given to be elected. If the overseas votes have impact on the outcome, the Returning Officer will announce the number of votes cast in Singapore in favour of each candidate and will defer the declaration of the candidate elected until the day the overseas votes are counted. After counting the overseas votes, the final results will be published in the Singapore Government Gazette.
Election Expenses Returns
The election agents of all candidates who contested in a presidential election must submit a declaration and a return of election expenses to the Returning Officer within 31 days of the day on which the result of the election is published in the Singapore Government Gazette.