The curtain for the September 9 Legco poll has been raised after the two-week nomination period closed on Tuesday. A record 292 candidates have signed up for the fray, and with 16 unopposed, 276 will be vying for 54 seats, thanks to changes introduced as part of the constitutional reform towards universal suffrage. There are more new faces standing under different banners. Political parties are also resorting to new electoral strategies in the hope of winning more seats. Not surprisingly, the election is set to be the most competitive yet. One of the highlights is the seven slates slugging it out for the five newly created 'super seats'. Unlike previous polls, this time every voter will have two votes - one in a geographical constituency and another one for these five new seats in the district councils constituency. The latter will see a citywide ballot of the 3.2 million voters who do not have a vote in any other functional constituency. Arguably, the victors' public mandate will be the strongest, due to the high number of votes expected to be cast for these seats. Since the way in which they are returned is likely to be similar to the chief executive race in 2017 - when a one-person one-vote system will be adopted - the experience gained will provide a reference for the democratic development ahead. The battles in the five traditional geographical constituencies are also exceptionally keen. A record 69 candidate lists are vying for 35 seats. For the first time, the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong has followed pan-democrats in splitting its candidates between slates in the same district, a strategy that can deliver more seats under the proportional representation system. In New Territories East, 20 slates are fighting for nine seats. But another record is likely to put Hong Kong's democracy to shame. Sixteen unopposed candidates will represent more than half of the traditional, trade-based functional constituencies. The lack of competition makes a mockery of the democratic process and strengthens the argument to abolish these constituencies. While the remaining seats will be eagerly contested, whether the election draws a high voter turnout remains to be seen. Some 216,000 voters were disenfranchised last month after ignoring inquiries to validate their addresses, part of a clampdown on vote-rigging. Chaos may arise if they show up at the ballot box only to learn that their voting rights have been stripped away. Separately, many are apparently still unaware that the 'super seats' have been introduced. There is a pressing need for more publicity on the second vote. The September 9 ballot is an important milestone towards democracy in Hong Kong. It is in our best interest to make electoral reforms a success. Let's have a clean, fair and open election.