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Voters called on to cast votes in Election Committee Subsector Elections (with photo)

The following is issued on behalf of the Electoral Affairs Commission:

     The Electoral Affairs Commission called on about 237,000 eligible voters for the Election Committee Subsector Elections to cast votes in the election to be held on December 11.

     Commission Chairman Mr Justice Barnabas Fung Wah made the appeal today (November 28) when he spoke to the media after briefing the candidates for the District Councils Subsectors of the Election Committee Subsector Elections.

     The Returning Officer for the District Councils Subsectors of the Election Committee Subsector Elections received 132 nomination forms during the nomination period. One nomination was ruled invalid by the Returning Officer due to a problem related to the election deposit of the nominee concerned.  In this regard, the total number of valid nominations for the District Councils Subsectors stands at 131.

     On polling day, a total of 1,300 candidates will run for 766 seats in 24 contested subsectors.

     "The number of votes that may be cast by each voter of the subsectors cannot be more than the number of seats allocated to that subsector. Otherwise the ballot paper will become invalid and will not be counted. Each ballot paper will indicate clearly the number of seats allocated to that subsector," Mr Justice Fung said.

     Mr Justice Fung pointed out that voters for four subsectors should pay particular attention to the number of seats they can vote for these subsectors. They are the Chinese Peopleˇ¦s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), Heung Yee Kuk, Hong Kong and Kowloon District Councils, and New Territories District Councils.

     Ten among the 400 new seats of the new term of the Election Committee will be allocated to the Legislative Council (LegCo) subsector. As the number of LegCo seats will only increase from 60 to 70 in October 2012 when the fifth term of the LegCo commences, the existing legislative arrangement is to create temporarily 10 "Special Member" seats to make up the difference of 10 seats.  Among these 10 "Special Member" seats, four will be allocated to the CPPCC subsector, and two each to Heung Yee Kuk subsector, the Hong Kong and Kowloon District Councils subsector, and the New Territories District Councils subsector.

     Voters for these four subsectors can only vote for candidates not more than the number of members allocated to the subsector concerned (the number does not include the "Special Members"), i.e., 51 for CPPCC, 26 for Heung Yee Kuk, 57 for the Hong Kong and Kowloon District Councils, and 60 for the New Territories District Councils. For candidates who are not elected in these four subsectors, those who obtain the greatest number of votes in the respective subsectors will in order become the "Special Members".

     In response to recent reports on alleged false declaration of residential address by electors, Mr Justice Fung stressed, "The Commission and the Registration and Electoral Office (REO) are very concerned about the situation. The REO will handle these cases in a serious manner. If there are any cases which may have violated the law, they will be referred to the law enforcement agencies to follow up."

     He pointed out that the existing voter registration system is built on three elements.

     "First of all, the current arrangement for voter registration is based on an honest declaration mechanism. The public is only required to make a declaration of his registration particulars when he is newly registered.  Registered electors are not subject to regular comprehensive reviews or subsequent declaration requirement.  This aims to facilitate the public to register as electors by simplifying the registration procedure as far as possible in order not to deter eligible persons to register as electors.

     "Secondly, the existing voter registration system is very transparent for the public to monitor. Every year, the REO will release the provisional registers of electors, the omission lists of registers and the final registers of electors for public inspection. During the release of the provisional register of electors, the public can lodge a notice of objection to the Electoral Registration Officer on the registration of an elector on the registers. The cases will be referred to the Revising Officer for consideration and ruling. Under the current system and in accordance with the law, the REO will omit a considerable number of registration records that the electors cannot provide any updated information of their registration particulars in order to enhance the accuracy of the registers of electors. Of course, the existing sample checking procedures of the REO have room for improvement and we shall follow up on this."

     "Thirdly, the legislation has also clearly stipulated the penalty concerned. Any person who makes a false declaration of voter registration or in updating his residential address as an elector is an offence and is subject to a maximum fine of $5,000 and imprisonment of 6 months. Anyone who commits a corrupt conduct in relation to election may be imposed with a heavier penalty of a maximum fine of $500,000 and imprisonment of 7 years upon conviction," he said.

     "These three elements act as checks and balance to ensure that the system is on one hand convenient to the public and will on the other hand also penalise those who make false declaration about their voter registration," Mr Justice Fung said.

     As for cases relating to electors making false declaration of their residential address, Mr Justice Fung said, "If there are any specific details of the cases concerned, the REO will take follow up action immediately. A letter of inquiry will be sent by registered mail to each of the electors concerned requesting submission of a proof of residential address. If we come across any cases which may have violated the law, they will be referred to the law enforcement agencies for further investigation."

     "The Commission is deeply concerned about the suspected vote planting incidents and has instructed the REO to follow up the cases seriously. I am also glad to know that the Police has taken a serious view of the cases and will complete their investigation as soon as possible. I must stress that currently there is a mechanism to follow up these cases in accordance with the law," he said.

     "We understand there are public views expressing their concerns that the current system is not adequate enough. We are pleased to listen to their views and are reviewing the existing voter registration system. We are open to consider different views to see how to better improve our voter registration system."

     Mr Justice Fung called on registered electors to inform the REO as soon as possible if their have moved or changed their residential address so that their voter registration records can be updated.

Ends/Monday, November 28, 2011
Issued at HKT 22:45


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