Chia Ti Lik’s Blog

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Running Elections – The Florida Way

We took two flights to reach Jacksonville Florida, USA on 6th August 2009.

Florida was the swing state in the 2000 Presidential elections where George Bush beat Al Gore by a narrow margin winning him all the electoral college votes which was crucial in securing the electoral votes needed for a victory in the Presidential election. The narrow fight and the intrinsic imperfection of the electoral college votes made the manner in which the elections were held and the way votes are counted, tabulated and arbitrated extremely important. As such, tiny Singapore has many things to learn from the Elections Supervisory of the State of Florida.

United States is made up of 50 different countries, a number of autonomous Indian Nations and headed by a Federal Government restrained by the Constitution.

The Constitution sets out the basic and fundamental law of the Federation and whilst the States are autonomous they are similarly restrained by the same Constitution.

I managed to purchase the Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America. Those reproductions made to look like the original made me think how different the Constitution is treated by the Americans and how our people and government treat our own.

In the USA, the 3 documents abovementioned have a cult status. They can be reproduced in booklet form, harcover form, parchment form, paraphernalia form and sold for good money – and it sells!

Whereas in Singapore, from the way our legislature, executive, judiciary and people treated our own constitution, our constitution probably is not worth the paper it is printed on – having been trampled upon, soiled and defecated upon by the administration. It probably is not even worth its equivalent weight in amount of toilet paper. 🙂 Has one ever wondered whether our administration has even half the balls to take up the challenge of printing the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore and marketing it to the Singapore people? 🙂 🙂 🙂

The system of electoral college votes is flawed. Nevertheless this cannot detract observers from appreciating the beauty of the constitution as a whole.

In politics throughout the world, there will be politics designed to keep the elected in power. The American system strives consciously to prevent so. Their system is not perfect – it has been emphasised to us repeatedly over and over again and inevitably there will be areas for improvement.

The system of electoral college votes may at times result in the candidate having the popular vote not having the victory in the election and is arguably flawed, this system has served United States in the manner that it has had, in its context it might have still worked perhaps simply because there has been so many other safeguards that the original founding fathers had placed in the constitution. They also had amendments made to fortify the fundamental freedoms that allow the system to withstand the failure and imperfection of men.

The experience in 2000 caused the Florida Elections Supervisory to revamp much of its election processes. What has been put in place now is a system and protocol of efficiency and transparency that impresses every visitor who is explained the works.

Mr. Jerry Holland, Supervisor of Elections has put in place a system which arguably moves towards fairness and transparency. His belief is the elections process must preserve the trust and faith of the electorate. This must be so for the system to retain its relevance and perform its purposes.

We witnessed electronic counting systems which correctly integrate both voting by mail [in advance] and numberless ballot papers which are accurately sorted out by an electronic counting system which leaves a paper trail. This instilled confidence in their voters and left our delegation with breathless admiration.

The details of the superiority of the Florida’s Election system will be addressed in a later post if time permits but as it is now it suffices to say that the Singapore Elections Department, continuing the way it has under the stewardship of the Prime Minister will continue to erode the confidence of the people of Singapore. The lack of transparency in the manner which the elections are held will erode the confidence of the people and be detrimental to Singapore as a whole in the long run.

We are also repeatedly told that should the elections results fail to express the expectations of the people, then the system is undeniably flawed and would have failed.


August 7, 2009 - Posted by | Politics

1 Comment »

  1. TL,

    I agree that we have many things Singapore and Singaporeans can learn from others.

    In my organisation, I have hosted many foreigners when they come to learn from the Singapore “success story”. Obviously I try my best to highlight where we’ve done well and conveniently play down where we haven’t.

    I’ve also done my share of visiting other countries, and have learnt to listen with a critical mind. At last, I’ve often been warned to take in what the Americans say with a pinch of salt. Or rather, a spoonful. After verifying the reality, I would give high marks for their form-factor, but substancewise…..

    BTW, your name was mentioned in SDP’s website in this article.

    Apparently your “withdrawal” from jiang-hu has not being publicised enough.

    Comment by wakeko | August 10, 2009 | Reply

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