Encouraging response from new voters

THE Government denied that people between 18 and 21 were uninterested in registering to vote.

It said the response of the newly-eligible group of voters was encouraging.

Of the 106,000 new voters registered this year, about 16 per cent or 17,000 were from the 18-21 age group, said Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Nicholas Ng Wing-fui. Yet this group made up only five per cent of the 3.9 million total eligible voters.

The number was expected to increase as the registration campaign picked up momentum, said Mr Ng.

Legislators, however, questioned whether the Government had specific measures to target this group of voters.

Mr Ng said the Boundary and Election Commission had designed a number of measures to approach such people through schools, youth centres and the voter registration ambassador campaigns.

But he said the Government would not go to every school to register people over 18 because this would require tremendous resources.

He welcomed efforts by community organisations and political parties to encourage young people to register.

''Other than the efforts of the Government it is also the electors' duty to exercise their right to vote,'' Mr Ng said.

He declined to say whether the Government's rejection of legislators' efforts to freeze the rates would discourage voters from registering.

And he denied Hong Kong's voter registration rate and turnout rate was lower than other countries.