Open Sesame!

A democratic vote is a sacred thing, whose integrity must be protected at all times and at all costs. Or so we have all been told.Which explains our surprise, shock and horror to learn that a recent sacred voting process in Singapore has gone seriously awry. We’re referring, of course, to the incident in the Singapore Idol contest—where what was explained as a “technical glitch” prevented the vote count for several hours. The result: songbird Mathilda D’Silva thought she had made it into the Final 12, only to discover later that the real winner of that slot was Nurul Maideen. Poor Mathilda had to settle for a try-again slot in the Wild Card Show.But if such an error could occur in a highly sophisticated system like Idol voting—one that has been tried and tested around the world, with crooners from California to Krakow—couldn’t it happen when the stakes are a little higher? Voting via SMS is merely the precursor to eventual electronic voting. When that day comes, what if “a technical glitch” occurs again, and votes are not counted? What happens to the democratic process then? Will winners become losers? Will ballot boxes have to be unsealed long before their six-month due date?STOP PRESS! It’s happened!Ballot boxes in the hotly contested Aljunied GRC will be unsealed long before their six-month due date—the Elections Department says that voter lists were inadvertently placed inside the boxes along with the completed ballots. In order to determine who didn’t vote (as required) in the General Election 2006, the boxes will have to be opened, making some voters in the constituency a little uneasy. We don’t want to put too fine a point on it, but we do have a few questions.At the voting centers, the ballot boxes are sealed—save for a slot through which the ballot itself is inserted into the box. How then did an entire name list of electors get into the box? Plus, the name list of electors is in the hands of the election officials—who sit far away from the ballot boxes. How then did the name list get inside the box?Thank goodness Superman has returned. We’ll need his x-ray vision (and maybe even his ability to turn back time) to solve this mystery.