Conducting a large-scale election amid a pandemic is challenging enough. The stakes have become even higher when the ballot, the first following Beijing’s revamp to bar “non-patriots” from running, is extended to border checkpoints for Hongkongers on the mainland for the first time. The authorities must ensure that the move will not compromise the integrity of the election. Some 370,000 Hongkongers aged 18 or over live on the mainland. How many are registered voters remains unclear. But with just a quota of 111,000 allowed at the three border polling stations, the special arrangement for the Legislative Council election on December 19 is unlikely to swing a widely expected low turnout. But it enables voters stranded across the border to exercise their right to vote without going through the hassle of quarantine. Apart from registering their preferred polling station and time for balloting, voters must also produce a negative Covid-19 test result no more than 48 hours before entering the premises. They shall immediately return to the mainland under the so-called closed-loop arrangement. Hong Kong police to flood city’s streets with 10,000 officers for Legco vote Pro-Beijing politicians have long lobbied for polling stations to be set up on the mainland, a move critics say will help increase their number of votes, but the law does not allow ballots to be cast outside the city. The unprecedented move allowing voters to briefly cross the border and return without quarantine is a compromise, taking into account the extraordinary circumstances and legal constraints. Pragmatic as it is, the one-off arrangement poses valid questions. For instance, do authorities have extraterritorial enforcement power against undue electioneering on the mainland? Can voters access local election materials on the internet and social media without hindrance? Are those long settled across the border still “ordinary residents” of Hong Kong, a legal requirement for voter registration? There are also concerns that the media and public cannot observe the counting process inside these polling stations. At stake is not just the exercise of one’s right to vote, but the integrity of the election. The government must demonstrate that even though the electoral rules have changed, the ballot is still held in a fair, just and honest manner.