Following is a question by the Hon Albert Chan and a written reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, in the Legislative Council today (October 17):
Quite a number of members of the public relayed to me on September 9, 2012, the polling day of the Legislative Council Election, that when they went to the polling stations to vote, the polling staff inside told them, after verifying their personal particulars, that someone else had previously cast votes using their identity. However, these members of the public had not entered the polling stations to vote at an earlier time. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of the number of cases received on September 9, 2012 in which the identity of electors were allegedly used by others in voting, and the respective numbers of cases for each polling station;
(b) of the reasons for the problem mentioned in (a) above; and
(c) whether the authorities will take measures to prevent the recurrence of the aforesaid problem; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
The Administration's reply to the three parts of the question is as follows:
(a) and (b) Section 53 of the Electoral Affairs Commission (Electoral Procedure) (Legislative Council) Regulation (Cap. 541D)(the Regulation) provides that in a Legislative Council election, immediately before issuing a ballot paper, the Presiding Officer must place a line in the copy of the final register across the name and identity document number of the elector to denote that the ballot paper the person is entitled to have issued to him or her at that polling station have been so issued. Also, section 60 of the Regulation states that if a person representing himself or herself to be a particular elector applies for a ballot paper after that particular elector has been issued with a ballot paper (i.e. a line has been placed in the register across the name and identity document number of the elector), the Presiding Officer may issue a ballot paper endorsed on the front of it with the words 「重複」 and "TENDERED" to that person. These ballot papers will not be regarded as valid in vote counting. The Presiding Officer has to act according to the above Regulation when handling cases in which the name and identity document number of an elector have been crossed out before the elector claims his or her ballot paper at the issuing desk. Generally speaking, since the information of the cases is limited, it is difficult to identify the causes. The possible causes may include the following: there might be an impersonator applying for a ballot paper in the name of another person; an elector might attempt to claim a ballot paper in his or her own name again after casting a vote; or the electoral staff at the issuing desk might have inadvertently crossed out an entry in the register.
In the Legislative Council election held on September 9, 2012, a total of 135 ballot papers endorsed with the words "重複" and "TENDERED" on their front were found in the vote count for the geographical constituencies. For the District Council (second) functional constituency and traditional functional constituencies, 95 and five ballot papers endorsed with the words "重複" and "TENDERED" on their front were found respectively.
As for complaints, the Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC) has so far received 70 complaints (each complaint involves one elector and in total involving 70 electors). The complainants claim that when they tried to claim their entitled ballot papers in the polling stations, someone else had previously been issued with the ballot papers using their identity. The number of cases for each polling station is set out at Annex. The EAC is investigating the cases and if there is anything dubious, the case(s) will be referred to the relevant law enforcement agency for follow up. On the other hand, the Police has received 31 cases of suspected impersonation whereby persons had been issued with ballot papers using other persons' identity (involving 34 electors). Twenty-six out of the 31 cases (involving 28 electors) have been referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) for follow up. The ICAC has received a total of 27 such cases (involving 29 electors, and including the 26 cases referred to the ICAC from the Police). As persons making complaints to the EAC may at the same time report to the Police or the ICAC, the complaints received by the EAC and the cases received by the Police or the ICAC may overlap.
Under Section 15 of the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance (Cap. 554), a person engages in corrupt conduct at an election if the person applies for a ballot paper in the name of another person; or having voted at an election, applies at the same election for a ballot paper in the person's own name. If tried on indictment, the person is liable on conviction to a fine of $500,000 and to imprisonment for seven years.
(c) Before every Legislative Council election, the Registration and Electoral Office (REO) will through training remind electoral staff working at the issuing desk that they should act according to the Regulation and exercise due care in crossing out the name and identity document number of an elector in the register after confirming his or her identity. The REO also requires that when crossing out the concerned entry, it should be checked by another electoral staff to ensure that the other entry below or above the concerned entry will not be crossed out inadvertently. In view of the complaints, the REO will continue to enhance training for the electoral staff to ensure that they will carry out their duties correctly and in accordance with the law in future elections.
Ends/Wednesday, October 17, 2012