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November 25, 2019

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HK district council elections see record voter turnout

NEARLY 3 million Hong Kong people voted in yesterday’s district council elections, surpassing the record achieved at the 2016 Legislative Council election.

The Electoral Affairs Commission of Hong Kong carried out the ceremonial opening of the ballot box of this year’s District Council Ordinary Election after the polls closed at 10:30pm yesterday.

Both the voter turnout rate and the number of voters were at a record high.

Government data showed that as of 10:30pm local time, over 2.9 million people had cast their ballots. The turnout rate was 71.2 percent, compared with 47 percent in the 2015 polls.

Over 610 ordinary polling stations and 23 dedicated polling stations were open for voting.

The elections, held every four years, are in the spotlight as escalating violent protests have almost paralyzed the Asian financial hub.

Appearing in public to vote for the election, Carrie Lam, chief executive of the HKSAR, said the district elections are very important and appealed to the electorate to vote to represent their interests.

Hong Kong lawmaker and politician Junius Ho, who was stabbed earlier this month at a campaign event, also called for restoration of law and order.

Expected to be particularly competitive, the elections will see all 452 seats contested for the first time with the number of candidates also breaking record.

In the last elections in 2015, 68 seats were contested.

Electoral Affairs Commission chairman Justice Barnabas Fung said early today that 6,540 complaints were received. Of them, 1,875 were related to voting arrangements such as long queues and inconvenient locations of polling stations.

There were 1,184 complaints about election advertisements and 505 about canvassing activities.

He says many of the complaints were dealt with on the spot. The large number of complaints was largely due to the record turnout and keen competition, he said.

Although district council members have no decision-making power over government policies, they can still help decide the makeup of a committee which will choose the chief executive.

The 1,200-member election committee will include 117 district councilors. And in the Legislative Council, Hong Kong’s lawmaking body, six members come from the district councils.

Some registered voters even flew a long way to cast their votes at home. “My cousin Reine, who lives in Dubai arrived in Hong Kong at midnight to vote, as she thinks each vote will count,” a local resident told the Global Times, noting that many residents like her believed that their votes could help change the current situation and end the violence.

The first batch of voters entered the polling station at To Kwa Wan in Kowloon at 7:30am yesterday.

Most voters at the polling station at ELCHK Hung Hom Lutheran Primary School at that hour were middle-aged and elderly.

Several Civil Aid Security staff were deployed to maintain order.

There were long lines outside polling stations in almost every district. To ensure the fairness of the voting process, election staff carefully checked voters’ identity before letting them into polling stations, where riot police were also deployed to ensure safety.

Among the more than 1,000 candidates, about 320 are from pro-establishment parties and more than 390 from pan-democratic groups. Over 370 candidates claimed to be “independent,” and the remainder did not provide their political background.


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