Conducting an election in an open, fair and smooth manner in an increasingly politicised city is no easy task. This has been made more challenging by a drastic electoral overhaul imposed by Beijing to ensure public office will only be filled by “patriots”. The Electoral Affairs Commission, having borne the brunt of criticism over a serious vote-counting delay in the Election Committee polls last month, must avoid further setbacks in the coming polls for the Legislative Council and the chief executive. The prevailing atmosphere is nothing like in the past when canvassing would be heating up by now. This is probably due to the Covid-19 pandemic and uncertainty over the electoral line-up of different political groups. That is why many people are not even aware that nominations for the Legco polls begin today. Adding to the challenge are the new electoral methods and health risks arising from canvassing and balloting. For instance, there may be confusion because many voters do not realise that this time there are only 20 directly elected seats to be returned via a dual-seat, single-vote system that also features new geographical boundaries, as opposed to 35 seats unevenly distributed in five larger constituencies under a proportional representation system. Separately, authorities have sought to address problems that arose in the September polls, mainly with the machine that reads ballot papers and poor staff training that led to the delays in vote counting. On top of this, the commission is still unsure whether voters will have to use the “Leave Home Safe” app when entering polling stations. Given the government is going ahead with the mandatory use of the tracing app from November onwards as part of its enhanced anti-Covid-19 strategy, the commission is expected to follow. But it also raises questions as to whether one’s constitutional right to vote can be restricted by failure to use the app. It also remains unclear whether those wearing or carrying something featuring politically sensitive slogans or colours will be turned away. Questions have also been raised as to why the usual 15-hour polling period has been reduced by an hour, apparently just to give staff enough time in the morning to get the e-ballot system ready. The pandemic and the new electoral arrangements will put the authorities as well as candidates and voters to the test. At stake is not just whether we can overcome the constraints of an unprecedented contagion and deliver the Beijing-imposed electoral system accordingly. The revamped legislature, together with the new administration, is pivotal to the rebuilding of Hong Kong under the new political order. Every effort must be made to ensure elections are held in a fair, clean, smooth and safe manner.