E-mail poll pamphlets to voters, say greens

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 July, 2010, 12:00am

More than 16,000 trees would need to be cut down to produce pamphlets for the Legislative Council elections in 2012, a green group says, as it urges the government to replace mailings with e-mails.

Under a reform package passed by lawmakers last month, 3.14 million people will be able to vote for five additional district council functional constituencies in the elections.

Roy Tam Hoi-pong, head of Green Sense, said it would mean an additional 31.4 million pamphlets, assuming that 10 candidates would run for the five seats.

In 2008, each pamphlet weighed an average of 16.7 grams, so 31.4 million would translate into 524 tonnes of paper. That would be in addition to the 25 million pamphlets mailed to the 3.37 million voters in the five geographical constituencies, Tam said.

While current policy allows voters to receive the pamphlets by e-mail, a paper pamphlet would still be delivered to each voter regardless of how many lived in the same household.

The government should encourage people to sign up for the e-mail option and stop sending paper pamphlets to them, the group urged.

'Even if just 10 per cent of voters sign up, that is 300,000 people. It can already help the city to save a lot of paper,' Tam said.

The group said it would send a detailed proposal to the Electoral Affairs Commission today.

Under the group's plan, voters would register themselves online from January to May next year. By October next year, they would receive electronic pamphlets from the candidates for district councils.

In the district council elections that November, booths could also be set up at each of the voting stations for voters to sign up for the e-mail service and also opt to receive one pamphlet per household.

By August 2012, when the Legislative Council elections would take place, Tam said the group hopes at least 10 per cent of voters would have signed up for pamphlets by e-mail.

Tam said his proposal could save money for the candidates.

'Rich parties like the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong can afford to mail a few heavy pamphlets, all neatly put inside envelopes. Independent candidates might not have the same resources,' he said.

A spokeswoman for the commission said it had been encouraging voters to provide their e-mail addresses but would respect those who preferred not to do so.