Polling officers' blunders turn Legco election into 'one person, three votes'

Everyone has two ballots, but voters say polling officers have been mistakenly handing out three

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 September, 2012, 4:20am

The "one person, two votes" system marking this Legislative Council election has proved confusing, with anecdotal evidence suggesting duty officers at polling stations have mistakenly allowed some people to have three votes.

The Civic Party said the mistakes were serious and it had lodged a complaint with the Electoral Affairs Commission.

Chow Ying-nga, a resident of New Territories West, told the South China Morning Post yesterday that she received three ballot papers in one go at a polling station in Belvedere Garden, Tsuen Wan.

"The officer mechanically passed me a larger piece of paper for the geographical constituency vote and a smaller one for the district council functional constituency," Chow said. "But I am an accountant and should be voting in the accounting sector.

"Only when I took the initiative to return the smaller piece of paper did they realise [the error] and took it back. It is very easy for voters to have cast three votes."

Under the one-person-two-votes system, people who do not have a vote in a trade-based seat get to vote in the district council constituency - where five new "super seats" are up for grabs - in addition to voting in their own geographical division.

Voters who qualify to pick a candidate in a traditional functional constituency cannot vote for super-seat legislators.

Chow's case is not rare: Civic Party candidates Alan Leong Kah-kit, Tanya Chan and Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, who are legal-sector voters, all reported identical cases from different stations. "Leong and Chan had it worse; polling officers refused to take back the wrong ballot paper until the station's director stepped in," Eu said. "I am worried many functional voters may have cast three votes."

A spokesman for the Registration and Electoral Office said it would follow up with the duty staff "if it received concrete information". He said adequate training was provided.

Meanwhile, some voters erroneously chose two candidates from a geographical constituency or the super-seat category.

The super seats were a source of confusion for the elderly; some said they found it hard to understand why those seats were created or how the seven lists of candidates were screened.

The seats were meant to resolve the issue that some voters had two votes while others - who had no trade-based seat to vote for - had only one, for their geographical constituency.

Leung Siu-wing, a 78-year-old voter in Kowloon East's Diamond Hill, wondered: "Weren't these district councillors automatically elected by Legco? I don't really understand, but I voted anyway."

Another voter in the same district said he was disappointed to find he could not vote for Pamela Peck Wan-kam, a super-seat candidate, as he had to vote for the education-sector constituency. He said voters should be able to choose to cast their vote for a functional seat or a super seat.

Some shunned exit polls, for fear of election engineering. "Some of the pollsters may be deployed by the pro-establishment camp to mobilise people to vote based on exit-poll results," said May Kan in Cheung Sha Wan. "I don't know which organisation is behind this, so the best strategy is not to help them at all."

Kowloon East voter Ng Sui-kei said she lied to a pollster about her choice to avoid any electoral manipulation.