A stamped ballot paper indicated for another constituency located in Hong Kong Island was found at a polling station in Kwun Tong, Kowloon during the counting of ballots at Hong Kong’s District Council Election on Sunday.
The ballot paper, found in a station in Kwun Tong, Kowloon, was printed with candidate information for another constituency located on Hong Kong Island.
The ballot was declared invalid, two candidates from On Lee constituency in Kwun Tong District confirmed with FactWire, citing “printing errors” from the presiding officer of the polling station in Carmel Leung Sing Tak School, code J1001.
But the presiding officer said that the number of ballot papers collected for counting correlated with the number of ballot ends in that station, said Choy Chak-hung, an independent candidate and now-elected district councillor. It means that the stamped ballot paper was from another polling station.
After months of ongoing pro-democracy protests in the semi-autonomous city, the much-anticipated district council election was considered vital to many to instil change in Hong Kong’s political structure. The voter turnout stood at 71 percent, much higher than the election in 2015.
The problematic ballot paper – found to be a ballot for the Fei Tsui constituency in Eastern District in Hong Kong Island – was shown to candidates and their polling agents at around half past midnight amid the counting of ballots, three sources told FactWire.
The sequence number of the faulty ballot was different from the rest of the other ballot papers, said Tsang Wing-fai, another candidate representing the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), a local pro-establishment political party.
According to Choy, the names and photos of the two candidates in Fei Tsui constituency was printed on the complete yet faulty ballot paper. A stamp was indicated for candidate no. 1.
The presiding officer had failed to respond to Choy’s question on why the printing errors had occurred on only one ballot paper instead of the whole stack.
He also did not disclose the number of problematic and invalid ballots, Choy said, adding that according to the officer, another officer at the polling station in Fei Tsui told him no ballot papers were missing.
“I have never encountered or heard of this situation throughout the six elections I have been through in 25 years,” Choy said.
Lai Chi-keung, a candidate from Fei Tsui constituency in Eastern district, said one vote was missing during count, but both sides decided it would not affect the results and did not pursue further. The presiding officer later informed the public that the ballot paper was found, but did not state whether it was found in Kwun Tong. The officer did not add the vote into the polling results in Fei Tsui.
Another candidate from Fei Tsui also confirmed with FactWire about the lost-and-found ballot paper, but was unaware that the ballot paper was discovered in another polling station in On Lee.
Choy and two citizens confirmed with FactWire that the problematic ballot was found when the polling officers were counting votes in the first ballot box, which means the ballot papers from the correctional services department, prisons or police stations had not arrived yet.
The stamped ballot paper did not affect the results as Choy led Tsang by 983 votes. Both Choy and Tsang had asked the electoral office to provide a formal explanation on the incident.
No responses have been recorded from the registration and electoral office on the incident so far.