Hong Kong Politics & Protest

Polls watchdog fields 2,700 complaints – mostly related to ads and nuisance

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The Electoral Affairs Commission say they have received 2,700 complaints, most of which are related to advertisements and nuisance, ahead of the District Council elections this Sunday.

There were about 500 more complaints than in the last elections, RTHK reported. Chairman of the Commission Justice Barnabas Fung, who visited a mock polling station at Leighton Hill Community Hall on Tuesday, advised candidates to remove the advertisements put up by members of the public.

Barnabas Fung

Barnabas Fung at a mock polling station. Photo: Apple Daily.

“There is a cap on the election expenditure, and if someone wants to put up these advertisements to support the candidate, they would be considered to be acting as an agent authorised by the candidate. The expenses would be calculated into the total expenditure amount, which cannot go over HK$63,100,” Fung said.

In response to Legislative Councillor Ann Chiang Lai-wan’s comments that it was “torture” to have the voting last for 15 hours, Fung said that the duration had remained unchanged since the handover, and that it was mostly for voters’ convenience. He also said that he personally believed it was feasible, and although the Commission welcomed different opinions on the matter, it would ultimately have to be dealt with in the Legislative Council.

Barnabas Fung

Since 2001, the Commission has prosecuted around 60 cases of vote-rigging and using fake addresses on voter registration.  More than 50 of them resulted in convictions according to media reports.

Fung explained: “In the 2011 District Council elections, there were suspicions of voters vote-rigging or using inaccurate addresses. It transpired that most of them involved changes of address that had not been reported to the Registration Office. Under our present law, if you submit a false address for voter registration, an address that is false in the sense that the voter has never resided there, then this is false voter registration or vote-rigging.”

“But in [the] case that someone has submitted a genuine address for voter registration and has moved to somewhere else… there is no legal obligation to report this new address, [although] of course there is a social, civic duty… but in case there is no renewal of the address and the fact has not come to the attention of the electoral registration officer, then this moved voter would still be registered in the final register and he is entitled to return to the original district council constituency to cast his vote.”

Fung reminded voters to confirm their registration status, and to be aware that some polling stations may have relocated, either to accommodate the 19 newly-added districts or because the same venue could not be arranged, Apple Daily reported.

Polls watchdog fields 2,700 complaints - mostly related to ads and nuisance