Following is a question by the Hon Alan Leong Kah-kit and a written reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, in the Legislative Council today (June 6):
The figures quoted in the reply to my written question on June 22 last year by the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau indicated that in the past years, the percentage of the number of electors registered online via GovHK in the overall number of registered electors was extremely small. For example, in 2010, only one out of every 4 500-odd registered electors registered via GovHK while other electors all applied by filling in elector registration forms (registration forms). In connection with the measures to improve the elector registration channels, the rate of elector registration and the accuracy of electors' addresses, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of the respective numbers of electors registered via GovHK and those registered by filling in registration forms during the period between January 1, 2011 and May 16, 2012;
(b) given that the number of electors registered via GovHK has persistently been on the low side since 2007 despite the high prevalence of the Internet, whether the Government has reviewed the causes for such small number of online registrations; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(c) whether the Government will consider improving the existing online registration method; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(d) given the low registration rate among young electors aged below 30 when compared with the overall number of registered electors, whether the Government has reviewed the causes and adopted any improvement measure; if it has, of the details, if not, the reasons for that; and
(e) given that a number of suspected vote-rigging cases were uncovered in the District Council elections held last year, and that the Registration and Electoral Office (REO) issued letters to all registered electors in February this year informing them of the elector registration arrangements regarding the new District Council (second) functional constituency and appealed to members of the public to return wrongly delivered election-related mails they receive to REO and to put a "tick" in the appropriate box on the specially designed envelopes to indicate the reason for returning the mails, of the number of mails returned to REO, with a breakdown by the following reasons in table form:
(i) the addressee of the mail does not reside at the address;
(ii) the addressee of the mail has already moved out;
(ii) there is no such address; and
(iv) the mail is returned undelivered by the Post Office?
During the 2012 Voter Registration Campaign, the Administration appealed to all those who were eligible to register as electors by the statutory deadline (i.e. May 16) through various publicity channels. The public could return the completed application forms to the Registration and Electoral Office (REO) by mail, facsimile or in person. Persons holding a valid personal digital certificate may also register online through the GovHK website.
As regards the questions raised by the Hon Alan Leong Kah-kit, our reply is as follows:
(a) The numbers of electors successfully registered through the GovHK website and by filling in an application form in the 2011 and 2012 voter registration cycles are at Annex.
(b) and (c) According to Section 4 of the Electoral Affairs Commission (Registration of Electors) (Legislative Council Geographical Constituencies) (District Council Constituencies) Regulation (Cap. 541A), when a person applies for registration as an elector, the application must be signed by that person. If a person registers through the GovHK website, he must possess a valid personal digital certificate and sign with that certificate to meet the statutory requirement. Voter registration forms are available at the REO, District Offices and Public Housing Estate Offices or can be downloaded from the dedicated voter registration website. At present, the majority of applicants submit their completed voter registration forms either through mail or facsimile and the process is simple. Online registration is an additional way to facilitate the public who prefer not to submit their applications in the conventional way by filling in an application form.
(d) The REO has been making all kinds of efforts to encourage eligible young people to register as electors. According to the 2011 Final Register of electors, the registration rate of young people aged 18-30 was 60 per cent. Although this figure was lower than the overall rate of 75.6 per cent, it was already a substantial increase compared to the registration rate of the same age group in 2008 (54 per cent). To sustain the increase in the registration rate of young people, REO has set up voter registration counters in the Immigration Department's Registration of Persons Offices to facilitate the public to register as electors when they replace their identity cards. The REO has also set up voter registration counters in higher education institutes during Voter Registration Campaigns to encourage young people to register as electors.
The REO has also made use of specific promotion measures to call on the young people to register as electors. These include broadcasting Announcements in the Public Interests on television and radio specifically produced to target at the young people, posting posters specifically designed for young people in public places, organising large scale promotion activities targetting at young people in large shopping malls and advertising at food and social networking websites and instant messaging tools frequently visited and used by young people. Moreover, hyperlinks of the voter registration website are provided at government websites and websites frequently visited by young people to facilitate them to look up information on voter registration.
(e) In February, the REO issued a letter to all registered electors (about 3.56 million) explaining the registration arrangements regarding the District Council (second) functional constituency and around 138 600 letters were returned (about 3.9 per cent). The breakdown is as follows:
(i) around 64 700 letters were returned as the resident indicated "the addressee of the mail does not reside at the address" on the envelopes;
(ii) around 63 400 letters were returned as the resident indicated "the addressee of the mail has already moved out" on the envelopes;
(iii) around 4 800 letters were returned as the resident indicated "there is no such address" on the envelopes; and
(iv) around 5 700 letters were returned by the Post Office as they were undelivered.
Ends/Wednesday, June 6, 2012