Singapore voters to use Singpass app for identity verification in the upcoming presidential election

The Elections Department has clarified that individuals without a Singpass account can still present their pink NRIC.

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In a groundbreaking move, Singaporean voters will have the option to utilize their Singpass app instead of the traditional physical National Registration Identity Card (NRIC) for identity verification at polling stations during the forthcoming presidential election scheduled for September 13. Those without a Singpass account can still bring their pink NRIC.

With 2.7 million eligible voters recorded as of July, a rise from the previous 2.65 million in the 2020 General Election, Singpass, which holds the digital identities of approximately 4.5 million residents, has become a pivotal component of various identity-related transactions and services within the nation including accessing health records, property titles, and opening bank accounts.

Singpass was not accepted in the 2020 General Election; pink NRIC and polling card were required. Since 1 November 2021, government agencies accept Singpass for e-citizen transactions. Some cases still require physical NRIC, like hotel check-ins, specific immigration processes, and legal investigations. Additionally, certain banks and law firms still use physical identity cards due to system limitations.

Why does it matter?

While legal expert Bryan Tan highlights that the physical NRIC is improbable to become obsolete due to its role as a failsafe in case of digital system failures, the ongoing surge in digital adoption within society has prompted the exploration of substitutes for physical identity documents. This is seen as a strategy to enhance the ease and availability of access to an extensive range of services for citizens, encompassing government services, healthcare, education, and more. This trend illustrates the Thai government’s recent launch of the ThaID mobile app, specifically designed to streamline identity verification processes and reduce costs.