Singapore Election: Long Lines Amid Coronavirus Measures

Singapore headed to the polls Friday as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s ruling party seeks to extend its 55-year rule with a fresh mandate to counter the city-state’s worst-ever recession amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Wearing masks and observing strict social distancing at polling booths, all voters will have their temperature screened as authorities work to ensure safety amid the Covid-19 outbreak that’s shaken the city-state. Counting will begin immediately after polls close at 8:00 p.m., with the final outcome likely to be clear late Friday or early Saturday.

While Singapore bans opinion polls during election campaigns, analysts and the opposition parties expect the ruling People’s Action Party to form the next government. It’s been in power since the country’s independence in 1965 and has never won less than 93% of parliamentary seats, despite seeing its popular vote slip as low as 60% in 2011.

The Elections Department apologized for the longer-than-usual queues for voting, caused when people arrived outside their assigned time for casting their vote.

“This, together with measures that had been put in place to ensure safe voting, had led to long queues,” the department said in a statement. “To address the long wait, we did away with the requirement to don disposable gloves, as voters would already be required to sanitize their hands. We observed that this step in particular contributed to the longer than usual voting times. Gloves are still available for voters who would like to use both sanitizer and gloves.”

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