Ballot counting procedures in Hong Kong’s Lam Tin constituency are in doubt after the pro-democracy candidate complained that problematic ballots had been accepted as valid, causing him to lose the race.
Fung Tak-sum, an independent candidate, was running against Kan Ming-tung of the pro-Beijing Federation of Trade Unions (FTU) in Sunday’s District Council election race.
Ballot counting lasted until 1pm on Monday – around 15 hours after the election officially ended – with candidates requesting multiple recounts. Dozens of residents also gathered outside the counting station in protest.
Fung told reporters that he lost by a margin of 50 votes, but there were over 100 problematic ballots. Fung won 4,030 votes, whilst Kan received 4,080 votes.
Fung said the problematic ballots considered valid included those with two to three ticks inside the box, ticks being stamped on the FTU’s logo, or ticks on Kan’s face as shown on the ballot.
“There were never any guidelines saying that these ballots should be counted as valid,” Fung said.
Fung said he asked for a review of the ballots after it was announced he had lost, but the Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC) – an independent body managing the election – said it was not possible.
Around ten masked riot police officers then arrived at the counting station to escort the ballots away, as per a request by the EAC, according to Fung.
“Is this a fair election?” he said.
He added that the result was not important to him personally: “What’s more important is for Hong Kong to win.”
Fung said he will consider filing an election petition.
The election on Sunday saw a record high turnout of 71.2 per cent, with 2.94 million Hongkongers casting their ballot.
The pro-democracy camp enjoyed a landslide win, totalling 389 seats – seizing control of all but one of the District Councils. The pro-Beijing camp obtained 60 seats.
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