Thousands of Christians yesterday voted in a poll to choose their representatives to the 800-member Election Committee that will select the next chief executive in March. Voting was close and a recount was needed, with ballots still being counted at 1am. Some 17,000 votes were cast, representing a turnout of about 35 per cent, according to the Hong Kong Christian Council, which was in charge of yesterday's poll. Conservatives among 27 candidates were set to fill most of the seven seats allotted to the Hong Kong Christian Council, as a poll showed candidates pushing for universal suffrage were losing out. Initial results of the poll showed only two of the five candidates from the Christian Alliance for Democracy had enough votes to keep a seat. Leading the poll was Beijing-backed Hugo Chan Sai-keung, of the Praise Assembly, also vice-president of the Hong Kong Professionals and Senior Executives Association. At 9pm, he had 4,648 votes. Coming in second was the Reverend Li Ping-kwong, former president of the Methodist Church, with 3,939 votes. They were followed by Ng Sze-yuen, David Yeung Hok-ming, Cheung Ang Siew-mei, Chan Ka-ming and Jeffrey Sham. Both Mr Chan and Mr Sham are from the Christian Alliance for Democracy. Election manager of the alliance candidates, Cheung Ping-ling, said: 'It should not be viewed as a defeat even if only one or two of our candidates can get seats. We shall support only those who support full democracy in Hong Kong.' One alliance candidate, Herman Tang Wai-chung, said late last night: 'It is too early to say whether the poll results showed many Christians are not too interested in full democracy. The response of the voters was satisfactory. They were rather supportive.' A spokesman for the organising committee said the response to the election had been good.