Crowdsourcing precinct-level election results in Singapore General Election 2020

Elections in Singapore are not marred by fraud or serious electoral malpractice as in some other countries around the world. However, there are many areas in which it could do better, especially in transparency of boundary delimitation and publication of precinct-level election results. In 2015, the Government took a step forward in transparency by acknowledging their use of “sampling checks” to predict election results at the beginning of the counting process. Unfortunately, there is still no official publication of precinct-level polling data. In principle, candidates would know the results at counting centres where they have counting agents present, but no political party has ever published this information, to the best of my knowledge.

In the interests of promoting transparency and political awareness in Singapore, I am trying to crowdsource precinct-level polling data in this General Election. I did a similar project in 2011 for the Presidential Election and managed to get detailed results for about 10% of counting centres in Singapore.

Please contact me at GE2020@ngiam.net if you are interested in participating in this project. What you will need to do:

  1. Sign up as a Counting Agent for any candidate. Doesn’t matter which one. This is a non-partisan project, so ideally there will be a spread of participants across the candidates.
  2. Print out the Excel template in this link (https://bit.ly/2YXHLRC) before you go for counting. Things will get rushed when the results start coming out so best to prepare in advance. There are two templates in the workbook, one for 2-way contests and one for 3-way contests. Everyone should use the template for 2-way contests, except in Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC and Pioneer SMC.
  3. There will be 4-6 counting tables at each counting centre. Be sure to record the counting place number, polling district number and the name of polling station for each of the tables.
  4. Record the number of votes for each candidate for each of the counting places when the results are announced.
  5. Send the results back to me at GE2020@ngiam.net. For the moment, email will do but if response is overwhelming I will think of something else.

Finally, if anyone has any connections to the candidates’ campaigns and is able to help me obtain the list of counting centres and polling districts, I would really appreciate it so that I can perform some error checking. Please send this link to anyone you know who will be acting as a counting agent and email me at GE2020@ngiam.net if you have any questions.

Doing the same thing and expecting different results

Sigh. The past connects to the present. When it was first passed in 2014, the Protection from Harassment Act (POHA) was sold as being for the protection of vulnerable individuals from harassment. But not only did the Government try to make use of POHA to suppress criticism, the first Government agency to make use of it was Mindef. The Ministry of Defence ! Mindef can call upon whole regiments of armour, artillery, fighter jets and frigates and yet it could claim to be “harassed” by mere words ??? If I had still been an SAF reservist at that time, I would have been too embarassed to know where to hide my face. The Government eventually lost at the Court of Appeal, but the first mistake it made was in using Mindef as the test case to try to set the precedent. The idea of Mindef being “harassed” was just too far beyond belief for the Government’s attempt to abuse POHA to sit well with the public. If the Government had used a softer, cuddlier agency as the first case, it might have stood a chance of easing in its interpretation of POHA without triggering such a strong reaction.

Which brings us now to POFMA. Immediately after the Government lost its POHA case, a Ministry of Law spokesman said that it was considering a new law against online falsehoods. And now, in its very first use of POFMA, the Government issues a correction order against an opposition politician for statements which are substantially opinions rather than facts. So much for the scenarios of racial or religious violence, foreign interference in elections, or national security painted by the Government when it pushed the Act through. By no stretch of the imagination could Bowyer’s comments threaten the “public finances” of Singapore. Furthermore by targeting an opposition politician, the government just reinforces fears that POFMA is intended to be used to gag political opponents rather than in the national interest. Honestly, this was just stupid and will backfire on the Government. The Government expended a lot of political capital to push POFMA through. Why did it waste it on such a trivial case as this ?

AIM- Gone, Resurrected and Gone again

One of the more sordid political sagas that we have seen in Singapore over the last decade was the sale and lease-back by 14 PAP Town Councils of their IT system to a PAP-owned shell company, Action Information Management Pte Ltd. The justifications put forward by the PAP after the sale came to light were unsatisfactory to say the least, and while I do not believe the Party or any MPs profited financially from the deal, the PAP’s actions were symptomatic of their arrogance and culture of impunity.

One of the most basic decision tools taught in any corporate ethics class is the newspaper test – Before taking any course of action, ask yourself what the reaction would be if it were published on the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper ? Would you still do it if that action were public rather than secret ? AIM obviously failed the newspaper test but none of the 82 PAP MPs or hundreds of other appointed Town Councillors said anything. Admittedly, scholar-generals don’t come from private sector so maybe they have never gone through compliance training, but at least some of the rank-and-file MPs and Town Councillors do work for MNCs and should have been able to see the red flags flying furiously over AIM. But no one saw anything or said anything. Or perhaps even ordinary MPs and Town Councillors did not know about AIM. Which would itself be a damning indictment of the level of governance of PAP Town Councils.

I’ll skip over the whitewashing of the PAP’s actions by MND and go straight to the striking-off of AIM four years after the scandal first broke in 2012. Striking off is basically a means of closing a company by declaring to ACRA that the company is no longer in business and has no more assets or liabilities. The legal formalities were complied with and AIM officially struck off the company register in July 2016.

I was stunned, therefore, when Andrew Loh reported on November 2 that AIM had been restored to the the company register. While it is prefectly legal for companies to be restored after being struck off, this was extremely surprising because when AIM’s directors, all former PAP MPs, requested for AIM to be struck off in 2016, they must have already decided that there was no further use for AIM, and also made a declaration to ACRA that the company was no longer in business. What would make them want to revive the company after two years ?

Searching for AIM on ACRA’s website gave two hits, one for a restoration notice and one for the original striking off.

The first link showed that AIM had been restored on 28 Nov 2018 but ACRA’s business entity search tool still showed AIM’s status as struck off. Which was it ? Was AIM actually restored or not ? The answer came on 15 November as I was digging around ACRA’s website and discovered that the listing of companies deregistered in 2018 had changed. Whereas the original list had 71 entries, the new list only has 42 entries and AIM is not on the list !

[See Addendum 2 below]

Somehow or other, ACRA must have uploaded an incorrect listing of restored companies and nobody noticed for almost a year. That then leads to the question of whether ACRA discovered the mistake on their own or whether they were informed of it by some people who follow Andrew’s posts very closely. Either way, it is quite embarassing for an Agency whose job it is to make sure that business entities file their reports accurately and on time.

The bright side of this is that AIM appears to still be dead but it is disconcerting that ACRA could make mistakes like this. I have submitted an inquiry to ACRA asking why there were two versions of the 2018 Restorations document but haven’t received an answer yet.


Another anomaly with regard to AIM is that ACRA’s website does not mention when the First Gazette Notification for its striking off was published. Ordinarily, ACRA will publish a First Gazette Notification that a company will be struck off and the striking off will take effect after 60 days if no objections are received. Out of the 1,495 companies that were struck off on the same day (4 July 2016) as AIM, all but one were included in the May 2016 First Gazette Notification. The one exception was AIM. Admittedly, I am only referring to the summary documents published on ACRA’s website. Legally, only the official Government Gazette counts and it’s quite likely that the first notice of AIM’s striking off was published in the Government Gazette in May 2016 but ACRA just missed it out when it compiled the list for publication on its own website. Unfortunately, the Government Gazette is paywalled and is extremely expensive so I haven’t been able to check yet. [Could someone with an eGazette subscription help me to check what were the actual dates of the First and Final Gazette Notifications for the striking off of 199103607Z ACTION INFORMATION MANAGEMENT PTE LTD ?]

Addendum 2

So ACRA got back to me, and guess what ? There is now a third version of the list of companies restored in 2018 on the website. There are 70 entries in the latest version compared to 71 in the first version. The only difference between the two versions is that the latest version does not include AIM.

VersionFile Name/LinkCreatedNumber of entriesIncludes AIM
12018-restoration.pdf8 Jan 2019 17:2971Yes
22018-restoration-notification-for-s344e-and-s344f.pdf6 Nov 2019 14:5142No
32018-restoration-notification.pdf19 Nov 2019 17:2670No

The first version was taken down from ACRA’s website around 15 November and replaced with the second version. The second version was itself taken down around November 25 and replaced with the third version. The difference between the second and third versions is that the second version excluded 28 companies which had been restored in 2018 but then struck off again this year. In response to my inquiry, ACRA replied that AIM was “struck off on 04/07/2016. It has no records of restoration”.

ACRA was extremely unlucky to have not only hit a “politically exposed company” by mistake in the beginning but to have also made another mistake when it tried to correct its first error. All I can say is that AIM is just bad for the reputations of everyone who touches it.

British Colonialism and Rule of Law

One of the things we keep on hearing as the government commemorates the bicentennial of the colonisation of Singapore by Raffles is that it was thanks to the British that we have “Rule of Law” in Singapore. Well, yes, Singapore ranks highly in global surveys of perceptions of Rule of Law, and Singapore was a British colony, but Fiji, Kenya and even India were all British colonies and none of them are known for having strong Rule of Law. So, was it really the British who made the Rule of Law stick in Singapore ?

I decided to test this proposition by looking at the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index and comparing the scores of former British colonies with that of other countries which had never been colonised by the British. Out of 126 countries in the index, 42 were former British colonies. And the average overall score of the former British colonies was exactly the same as that for all other countries (details below) ! In other words, having been colonised by the British makes no difference as to whether a country has strong rule of law today.

Continue reading “British Colonialism and Rule of Law”

How old is this Bridge ?

Sandwiched between an industrial park, a cluster of Chinese temples and two giant Newater storage tanks is a short stretch of road now known as Tampines Avenue. This road is a remnant of the original Tampines Road before the old road was diverted for construction of Paya Lebar Airport. The area has the feel of a small Malaysian town and is a little corner of Singapore that time forgot. About the only reason most people would go there today is a restaurant, Goodyear Seafood Village that used to serve good Pontian style Bak Kut Teh 5 or 6 years ago but whose standard has dropped substantially since then. Their zichar dishes are still okay though.

What motivates this post, though, is the bridge and the “1889” marking shown above. I’m wondering if that could actually mean that the bridge was built in the year 1889. Tampines Road is a pretty old road, and it appears in maps as early as 1873. I’ve attached two screenshots comparing the 1873, 1945 and 1975 maps from https://libmaps.nus.edu.sg. Drainage is not shown in the 1873 maps, but the 1945 and 1975 maps show that Tampines Road crossed a stream roughly at the location of the present bridge as far back as 1945.  Of course, the stream has become a concrete drain today but could it be that the bridge has existed since 1889 ? Or first built in 1889 but rebuilt or renovated in the 130 years since then ? If it really was built in 1889, that would make it as old as the Read Bridge at Clarke Quay.

Maps from 1873 and 1945 showing Tampines Road before construction of Paya Lebar Airport

Somebody has suggested to me that the 1889 does not refer to the year of construction but could be a serial number or some sort of other marking. That’s certainly possible. The bridge including the markings can be seen in Google Street View (https://goo.gl/maps/VwDjGiPsRv22). I took those photos five years ago and for now, there is no sign of imminent redevelopment, but I’m hoping that I can solve this mystery before the bridge and everything around it gets demolished.

Afternote (21 Jan 2019):

I was eventually referred to someone in LTA and got this answer, “We have checked the mentioned bridge along Tampines Avenue and noted that there is no bridge structure on site but only a pipe culvert. Also, we do not have records of when the said pipe culvert was built.”

Oh well….

Fixing the Mazda 2 AUX jack

So my 2010 Mazda 2 started to act up on me a few months ago – At first I had to jiggle the Aux cable a few times to be able to switch to Aux  input, but after a whiIe I had to use one hand to hold the plug in at just the right angle and another hand to press the Aux button on the control. A bit difficult to do while driving…

As it turns out, this is actually a common problem in Mazda vehicles, caused by their use of two pins to detect the insertion of the jack. The pins are supposed to be shorted out when the jack is inserted but after a while the pins wear down or get loose and the stereo is not able to sense that an AUX cable has been inserted. According to this YouTube video, the solution is to short out the two pins permanently, so here goes…

First, we have to open up the console. Press in and pull up the front of the console:

This will reveal the cables connecting to the lighter and the auxiliary (AUX) port. Carefully pull out the connector for the Aux port and note the wires connecting to the Aux connector. On my car, there were five wires: pink, black, white, red and green. The middle black, white and red wires presumably carry the audio signal while the pink and green wires are used to detect the insertion of the plug.

According to the video mentioned above, pins 2 and 6 have to be shorted, but note that that video refers to a US (?) Mazda 3 and other forum posts mention different pin numbers for other Mazda models. So, first thing to do is to check which pins to short. I just used a short length of wire to short out the pink and green wires and confirm that I could now select AUX using the control button.

VERY IMPORTANT ! The method I used is a destructive method so be very, very sure that you have the correct wires before cutting them.

I cut the pink (#2) and green (#6) wires and shorted them together. In retrospect, I think the green (#6) wire was actually ground and shorting wire #2 (pink) to ground is probably the signal to indicate insertion of the Aux plug. It would have been smarter to cut the wires 1 cm away from the connector and use a crimp connector to short the pink and green wires together so that it would have been easier to reverse the process, but that’s 20/20 hindsight. This is what I actually did: I just cut the pink and green wires, stripped a little bit of the ends and wrapped them together.

After putting everything back together again, I am now able to switch between radio and AUX using the button and even though I cut the green (ground ?) wire there doesn’t seem to any static or other interference so far.

Watching the watchers

Originally published under the title “An eye for an eye” in the Computer Times supplement of The Straits Times on Aug 13, 2003

In 1991, the Law Reform Committee of the Singapore Academy of Law proposed that Singapore adopt a Data Protection law to complement the Computer Misuse Act.

Over the next decade, many countries such as Canada, Australia and Hong Kong introduced new laws or strengthened existing laws on Privacy and Data Protection.

Singapore, in contrast, chose not to adopt any omnibus Privacy or Data Protection laws even though it enacted a far-reaching Computer Misuse Act.

This reflects the fact that, in Singapore, the balance between individual and group is tilted firmly in favour of the group. This was clearly seen in the Government’s response to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) outbreak.

Surveillance cameras were installed in the homes of persons under quarantine. Confirmed and suspected Sars patients were compelled to reveal details of their movements and contacts under amendments to the Infectious Diseases Act.

During parliamentary debate on the amendments, only one MP, Mr Chiam See Tong, voiced concerns: The possibility that information collected by Health Ministry contact tracers could be misused.

He supported the Bill, on balance, and in view of the urgency of the situation. But Mr Chiam’s concern over possible abuse of personal information is certainly justified.

Several police officers have been convicted for using the Ministry of Home Affairs database to illegally obtain personal information about other people.

Sars contact tracers are covered under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) but the OSA has primarily been used to guard the Government’s secrets not individuals’.

Other laws such as the Income Tax Act and Statistics Act specifically prohibit the disclosure of information obtained under the respective Acts.

The Census Act also provides that information collected during a census cannot be used as evidence for prosecution of offences under other Acts. It is unfortunate that no similar safeguards were built into the Infectious Diseases Act.

One positive development in Privacy protection in Singapore has been the incorporation into law of ‘fair information principles’ as they apply to the Consumer Credit Bureau.

The bureau is required to ensure that all the data it collects is used only under specified purposes. They are: accurate and up-to-date; accessible to the subject; kept secure; and destroyed after a specified time

The right of access to our own credit reports is a landmark in Singapore privacy law. Up until now, individuals have not had a right of access to personal information held on them by government departments or businesses.

Ironically, while we have no right to view our own medical records, health care providers are not legally obliged to protect the confidentiality of our medical records.

In the Simon Shorvon scandal, pharmacies at two hospitals released the names of patients taking a certain drug to Dr Shorvon even though he had no legitimate use for that information. Had the pharmacies put more robust patient confidentiality rules in place, the scandal might well not have taken place.

The National Trust Council has finalised its Data Protection Code but because it is voluntary and intended primarily to promote e-commerce rather than to protect individuals, it is of very limited value to people seeking to protect their privacy.

Some recent events illustrate the difference in the Government’s response to surveillance technology when it is used by individuals rather than by the Government itself.

In the first incident, a Raffles Junior College (RJC) student used a personal digital assistant to videotape his teacher berating another student and tearing up the student’s notes. This video eventually made its way onto the Internet and resulted in a reprimand for the camera-wielding pupil.

The college’s principal spoke of ‘betrayal’. Indeed, government ministers lost no time in admonishing the student for the irresponsible use of technology.

Barely two months prior to the incident, the Government had been busy installing video cameras in the homes of people placed under Sars Quarantine Orders.

The Police have also announced that they will be setting up a network of 30 video cameras in Little India, Boat Quay and Newton Hawker Center to deter trouble-makers.

It seems odd for the principal of RJC to assert a right to privacy in the classroom when, by design, a classroom is filled with students who are supposed to be taking notes. The ‘privacy’ that the principal is talking about is really the freedom from accountability.

In the words of author David Brin: ‘Whenever a conflict appears between privacy and accountability, people demand the former for themselves and the latter for everybody else.’

In his book, The Transparent Society, Brin recognises that advances in technology are inevitable and that they result in ubiquitious surveillance.

In a controversial leap, he then argues that this may be a good thing and that we should welcome it but only if the surveillance is two-way.

If governments and corporations have the power to shine a torchlight onto the lives of individuals, citizens – all individuals -must also have the power to shine the torchlight back at the mighty and the strong.

The question facing society, then, is not whether it should ban cameras (a moot point as it’s not negotiable), but rather who should control the cameras.

Disconcerting as his arguments may be to privacy fundamentalists, Brin poses a key question: is the loss of privacy that technology brings acceptable – even desirable – if that same technology leads to greater accountability for those in power

In Singapore, what would happen if the Land Transport Authority (LTA) takes a different approach to privacy in Electronic Road Pricing and asks its CEO and board of directors to install satellite-based in-vehicle units (IU) in their cars, and to publish their real-time locations on a publicly-accessible website – just as the authority can monitor the movements of other motorists.

Changes in technology may be inevitable. But it is people who write the rules that govern how they use technology and where to delineate the boundaries of privacy.

To paraphrase Acting Minister for Manpower Dr Ng Eng Hen, individuals must be responsible in their use of technology – and the government even more so.

Ngiam Shih Tung is an engineer in a multi-national aviation company.

Sampling checks in GE 2015

The Elections Department released early indications of polling results for the first time during the 2015 General Elections by publicly announcing the result of sampling checks within 2 hours of the close of polls. Sampling checks have been carried out since 2001 or earlier, but the results were not made known to all candidates or the public until this year. The sampling check is carried out by Counting Assistants drawing a sample of 100 ballots from each counting table after opening the ballot boxes and mixing the ballot papers together. As each counting table corresponds to one polling district and there are about 2,000-3,000 voters per polling station, the 100-ballot sample per polling district corresponds to 3-4% of votes cast and is a large enough sample to make a good estimate of the final polling result

As shown in Table 1, the margin of error varies from ±1.2% points for a large GRC, Pasir Ris-Punggol with 66 polling districts, to ±4.4 % points for Potong Pasir, the smallest Single Member Constituency (SMC) with only 5 polling districts.  For simplicity, no adjustments are made to account for the variation in number of voters in each polling district, and the error margin is calculated for a 50:50 vote split.  The Straits Times has reported that the error margin for sampling counts is ±4% but this is a worst case and only applies to Potong Pasir which is the smallest SMC by far. On average, the uncertainty in the sampling check is within 1.3% points for GRCs and 3.3%  points for SMCs.

Table 1 – Error margins for selected constituencies and SMC and GRC averages
Number of polling districts Sample size Margin of error at 50% vote share
Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC 66 6,600 1.2%
Aljunied GRC 50 5,000 1.4%
East Coast GRC 32 3,200 1.7%
Bukit Panjang SMC 11 1,100 3.0%
Potong Pasir SMC 5 500 4.4%
GRC Average 45 4,500 1.5%
SMC Average 9 900 3.3%
Error margin is calculated as half the width of the two-sided 95% confidence interval (Normal approximation) at 50% vote share. All polling districts within a constituency are assumed to have an equal number of voters.

In a first-past-the-post election, however, what counts is not the actual vote share but crossing the 50% threshold. If we ignore three-cornered fights and make use of the normal approximation again, we can calculate a “victory threshold” or minimum sampling check result for which a candidate can be 95% certain of victory.  This is shown in Table 2 for selected constituencies.  Note that the victory threshold is slightly lower than would be obtained if we simply added the error margin from Table 1 to 50% because the victory threshold is a one-sided rather than a two-sided test. If you’re not statistically-inclined, don’t worry about it – that effect is small in this case. In Aljunied, despite the appearance of a nail-biting finish, the 52:48 sampling check result was above the victory threshold for the Workers’ Party and the PAP in fact had only a 0.2% chance of winning in that constituency once the sampling check result was known [See note 1].  In Punggol East, however, the sampling check result of 51% for PAP was lower than the victory threshold of 52.4% and the PAP could only be 75% certain that they would win there. Put another way, Lee Li Lian still had a 25% chance of winning even after seeing the sampling check results. In all the other constituencies, the winning party’s sampling check result significantly exceeded the victory threshold so the final result was not in doubt once the sampling checks were completed.

Table 2 – Victory threshold for selected constituencies.
No. of polling districts Victory threshold Actual PAP share in sampling check Probability of PAP win given sampling check result
Pasir Ris-Punggol (6-member GRC) 66 51.0% 73% 100%
Aljunied (5-member GRC) 50 51.2% 48% 0.2%
East Coast (4-member GRC) 32 51.5% 61% 100%
Sengkang West (SMC) 13 52.3% 63% 100%
Punggol East (SMC) 12 52.4% 51% 75%
Hougang (SMC) 9 52.7% 42% 0.0%
Potong Pasir (SMC) 5 53.7% 68% 100%
1. Victory threshold is defined as the minimum sample count result for which a candidate can be 95% certain of receiving over 50% of the actual vote (one-sided test).
2. Probability of PAP win is the probability that the actual PAP vote share is > 50%, given the observed sampling check result.

The error between the sampling check and the actual result gets smaller as the sample size increases. Hence GRCs will have smaller error margins than SMCs and 6-member GRCs will have smaller error margins than 3-member GRCs. This is seen in Figure 1 where the difference between the sampling check and the actual result was only 0.1% points in the 6-member Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC while the largest difference of 2.6% points was observed in MacPherson SMC.  The observed differences between sampling check and actual vote counts were all within the expected 95% error margins except for one constituency, but one out of 29 is about right, statistically. We also did not take rounding errors into account, which slightly widen the margin of error.


The sample check is a form of a quick count, which is used in developing democracies where there are concerns with regards to the compilation of electoral results by the central government. In Singapore’s case, there is no obvious need for a quick count as the entire counting process can be observed by candidates’ counting agents and elections results have always been announced within a few hours. Nonetheless, given that the Elections Department has chosen to conduct sampling checks, the decision to publicly reveal sampling check results is a welcome one.


[1] Some additional uncertainty is caused by the sampling check results only being reported as whole number percentages. The true PAP sampling check result from 5,000 samples could have been as high as 48.5% rather than the reported 48%.  However, this would still have given the PAP only a 1.8% chance of victory once the sampling check results were known.


Sampling check results  and actual vote counts are tabulated in Sample check vs actual v3 (Excel format).

A version of this note was previously published on The Online Citizen, http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2015/09/how-accurate-is-the-ge-sample-vote-count/.

What proportion of Singapore citizens are on the electoral rolls ?

DOS does not publish breakdowns of citizen population by age group. The published population pyramids are for “residents” which includes permanent residents. However, the government did publish the actual number of Singapore citizens aged 20-64 in 2011 in the population white paper together with forecasts up to 2060. Chart 6 shows their forecast for the number of citizens aged 20-64 in 2015 as around 2.2 million (I use their scenario with maximum intake of new citizens). The ratio of working-age to elderly citizens is around 5 in Chart 8. This allows us to estimate the total number of Singapore citizens 20 and above in 2015 as 2.64 million.  An ELD press release on 27 July 2015 states that there are 2,460,977 electors on the electoral register. Thus, approximately 2.46/2.64 = 93% of Singaporeans of voting age are on the electoral register. For simplicity, I’m not adjusting the denominator for those above 20 but below 21.

Apart from those who were dropped from the the electoral register for failing to vote in previous elections, various other categories of people are not eligible to vote (Section 6 of the Parliamentary Election Act), but the biggest category are probably prisoners. The total number of prisoners (including drug detainees) in Singapore is around 10,000 so that should not affect the figure that much. I presume that the NPTD population figures do not include overseas Singaporeans, so that would not contribute to the missing 7% either. The predominant explanation for voting-age Singaporeans not included in the electoral register is probably be that they failed to vote in previous elections but did not apply to restore their names to the electoral register by choice, ignorance or inability to pay the $50 fee required. 93% registration is high by international standards, but does seem a bit low considering that Singaporeans are automatically enrolled when they turn 21 and only drop off (mostly) if they fail to vote without reasonable excuse.

The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) has published a table showing that only about half of Singapore’s voting-age population actually voted. While the first three columns are consistent with ELD figures, the fifth column, Voting Age Population, appears to have been derived by subtracting the number of residents below 21 from the total population including non-citizens. The high proportion of non-citizens (including PRs) living in Singapore, especially in the working age population, therefore inflates the denominator and the low Voting-Age-Population turnout calculated by IDEA may be literally true but not meaningful because a large proportion of the denominator are non-citizens. The numerator is also only for voters in contested constituencies. The voter participation rate is thus further reduced by the prevalence of walkovers in past elections.

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 6.03.30 am

(Documenting here for reference as the question came up in discussion recently)