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Advance voting plan for 30,000

Local | Sophie Hui and Phoenix Un Feb 13, 2019
About 30,000 civil servants should be allowed to vote ahead of the Legislative Council elections next year if there is advance polling on a large scale, a pilot scheme proposed by the government recommends. Government employees, especially those who need to work on shifts and serve in polling stations, would have no time to vote, and so the Bureau of Constitutional and Mainland Affairs have suggested in its latest paper to the constitutional affairs panel to allow advance polling for them. To evaluate the effectiveness and identify potential problems of advance polling, the government also proposed this scheme with the aim of gaining more experience if a larger scale of advance polling is to be implemented. The 30,000 should be allowed to vote ahead of the Legco election day in 2020, with the date of advance polling set at seven days before the main polling day, which also falls on a Sunday. Advance voting should be made available to civil servants who are required to perform election-related duties on polling day that would prevent them from voting during normal hours. They would include about 21,000 polling staff, as well as up to 9,000 others from departments. The bureau also proposed setting up one or two polling stations in each of the 18 districts for advance polling, while the polling hours would be from 9am to 4pm - shorter than the usual 7.30am to 10.30pm. Ballot boxes, ballot papers, marked poll registers and other relevant materials of the advance polling day should be stored in one or several central locations before the main polling day, while the Registration and Electoral Office would also ask the police to help safeguard the materials. The bureau also suggested conducting electronic polling for three functional constituencies, by introducing a counting machine to identify the voting intention of voters on the ballots. The bureau, in accordance with the suggestion by the Registration office after the 2016 Legco elections, decided to introduce electronic counting for three traditional functional constituencies, to gain experience with a view to further extending it to the Super District Council functional constituencies in the future. Michael Luk Chung-hung, vice-chairman of the panel, said sectors with more than 10,000 votes, such as information technology, social welfare and education, should use electronic counting.

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April 2019