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Voting for the first time can be an intimidating experience. This section tries to help you understand the process by first explaining in simple language the terms commonly used in the context of an election.


  • Ballot Box
    This is the sealed container in which you put your ballot paper after you have made your choice on it. ballot box image
  • Ballot Paper
    This is the printed paper on which you mark your choice. It will list the names of the candidates to choose from and their respective political party affiliations, if any. ballot paper image
  • By-election
    This is an election in a single member constituency to fill a vacancy caused by the departure of a sitting Member of Parliament (MP) before that MP’s term expires.
  • Candidates
    These are the persons wishing to be elected.
  • Contested election
    This happens when the number of candidates nominated is greater than the number of vacancies in office that are up for election. A poll must be conducted to determine the candidates duly elected for that office.
  • Constituency
    Sometimes also called an electoral division, it is an area of Singapore for which an MP is elected to Parliament to represent the residents of the area.
    A constituency which is declared to be Group Representation Constituency or GRC is one for which case a group comprising 3 to 6 MPs are required to be elected to represent the residents of the area.
    constituency image
  • Election
    There are 2 kinds of election in Singapore - parliamentary election and presidential election.

    In a parliamentary election, electors choose a candidate or group of candidates for political office. This is done by voting. The candidate or group of candidates with the most number of votes is elected and becomes a Member or Members of Parliament. In a presidential election, the candidate with the most number of votes is elected and becomes the President of the Republic of Singapore.
  • General Election
    This is held whenever Parliament is dissolved. Parliamentary election will be held in every constituency to fill the seats of MPs of the new Parliament.
  • Independent
    A candidate or an elected MP who has no political party affiliations.
  • Nomination
    This is the process by which a person must successfully undergo to become a candidate at an election.
  • Poll Card
    This is the card you will receive from ELD confirming that your name is on a register of electors. It will tell you when and where to go to vote. It will not bear any political party logo or symbol. Constituency
  • Polling Day
    This is the day on which registered electors are to cast their ballot papers at an election. Polling Day at a general election or presidential election is a public holiday.
  • Polling Place
    This is a private area within a polling station where you can mark your ballot paper. polling place image
  • Polling Station
    This is the place where you go to cast your vote. It is usually open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

    A Polling Station in Singapore is an area situated usually within a school, a void deck in a public housing estate or a community centre/club. Overseas polling stations will be situated outside Singapore in designated Singapore High Commissions, Embassies or Consulates.
    poll station image
  • Presidential Election
    This is a nation-wide election for the office of the President of the Republic of Singapore.
  • Presiding Officer
    He or she is the person who gives you, the registered voter, the ballot paper to vote. He or she can also help blind people to vote.
  • Register of Electors
    This is the certified list of Singapore citizens who have the right to vote at parliamentary or presidential election. It is prepared and maintained by the Registration Officer at ELD.
  • Returning Officer
    He or she is the civil servant overall in charge for the smooth and impartial conduct of election. The Returning Officer will be assisted by a number of Assistant Returning Officers, each of whom will be the officer-in-charge of proceedings at each Polling Station.
  • Uncontested election
    This happens when the number of vacancies in office that are up for election is the same as the number of candidates nominated at that election. No poll will be conducted in such a case and the candidates nominated will be declared duly elected.
  • Writ of Election
    The issue of this document signals the start of an election. In a parliamentary election, the President issues the Writ. In the case of a presidential election, the Prime Minister issues the Writ. The Writ of Election directs the Returning Officer to hold the election. The Writ of Election is a public document.
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