With almost two million people having cast their ballots so far in the 2016 Legislative Council election, Hong Kong is set to see its highest-ever turnout of voters on Sunday as polls closed at 10:30pm.
As of 9:30pm, 1.98 million Hong Kongers had cast their ballot – a new record, representing 52.6 per cent of eligible voters.
Polls opened at 595 voting stations across Hong Kong at 7:30am. The day began slowly as the commission reported a turnout of 7.12 per cent after three hours of voting, 0.36 per cent lower than after the same time period in 2012.
Turnout increased significantly in the afternoon, and by 4:30pm, over a million people had voted. In the evening, long queues were observed outside polling stations at Tai Koo Shing on Hong Kong Island, and Lam Tin in Kowloon.
Final turnout figures are expected shortly before midnight.
The highest ever turnout of voters in Hong Kong was recorded during the 2004 Legislative Council election, when 55.60 per cent of the electorate cast their ballots. That year, 50.94 per cent of the electorate had voted by 9:30pm on election day.
The 2004 election came in the context of the proposed enactment of the controversial Article 23 of the Basic Law, which prohibits subversion of the Chinese Central People’s Government. A year earlier, 500,000 people took to the streets to demonstrate against the proposal.
53.05 per cent of registered voters cast their ballots during the last election in 2012.
— Damien Ryan (@damienpryan) September 4, 2016
According to the EAC, there are almost 3.78 million registered voters in Hong Kong, of which approximately 170,000 applied to cast their ballots this year.
Serena Leung, a newly-registered voter who works in the banking sector, told HKFP that the increased number of voters will be beneficial for the opposition camp in the Legislative Council.
“Young people are voting because they know about the situation in Hong Kong, and not because of ‘treats’. Their motivations this year are mostly the same as [what caused] the Umbrella Movement.” Pro-Beijing groups are sometimes accused of handing out “treats” to voters to attract their support in elections.
Preliminary election results are expected in the early hours of Monday, September 5.