A member of a visual arts group whose voting eligibility for September’s Legislative Council was suspended, only to be reinstated last Friday, has said the incident “has revealed loopholes” in the policies of the Registration and Electoral Office.
The arts group, named STRA, received a letter from the electoral office last Tuesday saying that the their eligibility to vote may have been withdrawn after the government announced an official list of groups and individuals recognised by the Arts Development Council on August 12. It was told to provide relevant documents by Monday if it wanted to appeal and retain its eligibility.
It finally received confirmation that it was eligible to vote on Friday via email after it provided documents showing that it had received funding from the Arts Development Council some time in the last six years. STRA member Clara Cheung said that it did not register again with the council this year as the group did not hold any artistic events in the last three years, an action which led to their removal from the gazette.
After receiving the confirmation, Cheung said in a statement on Sunday: “There should be a deadline for when voter information can be changed. If the Arts Development Council updated the gazette on September 3, then would the affected group voters be allowed to vote on September 4? The electoral office should clarify the relevant procedures.”
“I believe that the Electoral Office has many more resources that the Arts Development Council. So it has the responsibility to understand this procedural problem and arrange with the council beforehand to move the date of the gazette update before May 2 or after September 4,” said Cheung. May 2 is the deadline for voter registration and September 4 is the day of the Legislative Council elections.
STRA said that its ultimate goal is to “abolish the functional constituency.” Functional constituencies consist of professional or special interest groups. Thirty of the 70 seats in the legislative council are elected by Hong Kong’s 28 functional constituencies, with another five from the District Council (Second) functional constituency.