Political parties and a scholar have called on the election watchdog to beef up its checks on “problematic” voter registration by significantly expanding its staff after more than 1,000 voter-related complaints were filed with the office ahead of the district council elections in November. They said it was the only way to prevent vote-rigging which could drastically hamper the fairness of the elections, given a tiny number of votes could alter poll results because the number of voters in each constituency is small. Over the past week, the city’s courts have processed around 1,500 complaints - many from political parties - about problematic registrations. Some cases pointed to residents of homes for the elderly being registered without their consent. The Registration and Electoral Office issued inquiry letters to some 82,000 voters during a check earlier this year, asking the recipients to confirm or update their addresses. Those who failed to reply by a given time were removed from the electoral roll. Democrat Andrew Wan Siu-kin, a Kwai Tsing district councillor who has lodged 55 objections, said the office should not only enlarge the scope of its checks but also visit the residences of all voters who fail to get back to them. “This could be done if the office employs 100 more staff and that could already effectively lower the chances for people to manipulate the election,” he said. The Democrats, who meet election commissioner Mr Justice Barnabas Fung Wah today, will suggest that the office should require electors to sign a form at their polling station on election day, declaring they are eligible to vote in that constituency. That could already effectively lower the chances for people to manipulate the election Democrat Andrew Wan Penalties for registering false or misleading addresses should also be increased, Wan added. The government put forward measures to improve the voter registration system after media unearthed vote-rigging in the wake of the last district council polls in 2011. But two of the ideas – requiring voters-to-be to submit proof of address on registration and then to show voting cards at their polling station on election day – were dismissed after they failed to garner support even from pan-democrats. Dr Ma Ngok, a political scientist at Chinese University, agreed that these proposals were not feasible and that the current undesirable situation could only be resolved by the election watchdog. “Not everyone – such as young people and the homeless – can offer proof of address,” he said. “And I do not think their civil rights should be denied simply because of this.” It would be the same for poll cards, he said, adding that those who intended to engage in vote-rigging could easily manage to get hold of cards if they bribed homeowners. Both requirements would likely be challenged in judicial reviews, Ma added. The scholar said it was the responsibility of the election watchdog to ensure the accuracy of the electoral roll, and it should strengthen its checks following the submission of complaints. “The current system relies on people filing objections … but this could be better handled by the office than political parties if more resources were given to them. “I think Raymond Tam Chi-yuen should be accountable if the government refuses to allocate more support to the watchdog,” Ma said, referring to the constitutional and mainland affairs chief.