Elections set to go hi-tech

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 January, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 January, 1996, 12:00am

POLLING and vote-counting should be computerised, the Boundary and Election Commission has concluded in a report on September's Legislative Council election.

It is the first time the commission has indicated a preference for an electronic voting system.

It said it regarded the introduction of such a system as the major task before the handover.

But the report was silent on the commission's future after the transfer of sovereignty. China has said it will dismantle Legco and replace it with a provisional legislature.

'Computerised polling and counting may be more convenient for voters and will certainly prevent mistakes that may occur through human error in the entries to be made by polling staff of the number of ballot papers issued,' the report said.

'Turnout and election results will also be arrived at correctly and very quickly.

'The commission is attracted to the idea and will deliberate further in detail when the final report of the consultancy study is ready.' The commission also agreed to consider allowing voters absent from Hong Kong on polling day to vote earlier, saying: 'Such electors who wish to cast their votes can attend the office to do so, say in the period between seven days and two days before polling day.' It will also consider using mobile polling stations for bedridden electors or hospital patients.

But it ruled out proxy voting or voting by mail, saying these would increase the risk of vote buying.

The commission urged the Government to include verification of registered voters' particulars during the census. But a government spokesman said there would be difficulties in implementation.

Other recommendations on voter registration are being withheld because there are three election petition cases awaiting trial.

The report also said: Joint election advertisements for candidates from different constituencies should be banned; Centralised counting should be retained; and Voter registration forms should be posted with household utility bills.

The commission concluded public censure was an adequate deterrent to candidates breaching its guidelines.