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Legislative Council elections 2016

More than half of Hong Kong ethnic minority electors likely to vote, but many others don’t know how to register

Study finds that candidate material also often lacks information in English

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 August, 2016, 7:24pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 August, 2016, 10:24pm

More than half of ethnic minority electors are likely to vote in next month’s Legislative Council polls, according to a survey by two concern groups.

But electoral information remained lacking for non-Chinese-speaking residents as around 70 per cent of those who said they did not register to vote said they did not know how to do so. Half of publicity materials for candidates collected for the study did not have English information.

“Candidates should be more attentive to the needs of ethnic minorities. Greater effort should be made by the government to help ethnic minorities know about the election,” said Moses Mui Wai-keung, chief family and community service officer in the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, which jointly conducted the survey with Hong Kong Christian Service.

The survey, which was conducted from June to last month, identified 476 eligible voters out of the 704 people interviewed. Only 55 per cent of those eligible were registered to vote – a figure lower than the overall rate of 73.5 per cent in the city.

Any permanent resident aged 18 or more who lives in the city regularly and has not been disqualified from registration is eligible to become a voter.

Despite a lower registration rate, 55 per cent of interviewed voters said they would vote in the Legco elections.

That was higher than the overall voter turnout rates in the last two Legco elections – 45 per cent in 2008 and 53 per cent in 2012.

For the 29 per cent of eligible residents who said they did not register to vote, the top reasons given were unfamiliarity with the local election system, failure to identify a candidate who could represent them and a lack of information about how to register.

However, some respondents said they did not know whether they were registered.

“I really want to vote, but I didn’t know how to register,” said Perveen Akhtar, a 36-year-old Hong Kong-born Pakistani.

“When I asked how I could register, I was only told that it was too late,” said Akhtar in fluent Cantonese.

Researchers examined the publicity material of the nine candidates running for a “super seat”, who are chosen in a territory-wide vote, and found that only half of their materials, including introductions to candidates, promotion leaflets and websites, had English versions.