Confusion and hardship as polling stations move

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 November, 2011, 12:00am


Almost half a million voters came up against the same problem yesterday - the polling station had moved.

They were asked to go to different addresses to the ones they voted in four years ago. In the confusion, some went to the wrong place and others complained about having to travel further than expected.

Locations of 30 per cent of the 452 polling stations were different from the ones in the last District Council election and more than 70 stations were outside their constituencies, affecting 450,000 voters.

'I have spent 30 minutes walking from my home to here [the polling station]. Walking up the slope is very tiring, especially for the elderly who have sore feet,' said a 66-year-old resident in Hip Hong district, Kwun Tong.

The polling station was moved from Delia Memorial School (Hip Wo) to Hiu Kwong Street Sports Centre this year, forcing voters to walk uphill outside their constituency.

Another voter from the same constituency, a 58-year-old housewife, said the new location had reduced her enthusiasm about voting, but she went anyway out of civic duty.

In some districts, voters had to walk 20 to 30 minutes to their polling stations. Some turned up only to find they went to the wrong locations.

Rallying support for Civic Party candidate Tanya Chan on The Peak, Anson Chan Fang On-sang agreed that the location of many polling stations was acting as a deterrent to voters. 'Moving voting stations to faraway locations lowers citizens' intent to vote,' said the former chief secretary.

At Hong Kong Park Sports Centre, the polling station at The Peak, voters said the former station at St Joseph's College was more convenient, especially for those travelling by car.

'It's very crowded here,' said voter Alan Lam Pui-lok, 49. 'It would have been better if the station was at a spot where our cars could park without obstructing the traffic.'

The polling station for Sha Tin town centre was moved from the Town Hall to a school on Lek Yuen Estate, an extra 10-minute walk.

Resident voter Ophia Wong preferred the old location. It took her 10 minutes to walk from her home to the station. But she said: 'I won't take the relocation as a reason for not voting.'

Chile Tse said she had spent nearly 10 minutes walking to the station.

She said the new location would definitely affect the willingness of some people to vote.