Press Releases

LCQ6: Polling arrangements for disabled persons

    Following is a question by the Dr Hon Fernando Cheung and an oral reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, in the Legislative Council today (May 28):


    Will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether it has collected statistics on the number of disabled persons among registered electors; if it has, of a breakdown of the number of such electors by type of disability; if not, whether the Government has any plan to set up such a database;

(b) given that of the 501 polling stations for the 2004 Legislative Council (LegCo) Election, 287 were accessible polling stations suitable for use by disabled persons, representing 57 percent of the total number of polling stations, how many accessible polling stations does the Government plan to set up for the 2008 LegCo Election to facilitate disabled persons in casting their votes; and

(c) whether it has enhanced dissemination of information to disabled persons regarding voting at the 2008 LegCo Election (e.g. when disabled persons are disqualified from being registered as electors, and points to note when they go to polling stations to cast their votes); if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and whether the Government has formulated clear guidelines to instruct Presiding Officers how to assist those electors who are unable to complete the voting procedure on their own because of physical disabilities; if it has, of the details of the guidelines; if not, the reasons for that?


Madam President,

(a) The Legislative Council Ordinance (Cap. 542) stipulates that a person is eligible to be registered as an elector if he meets the requirements specified in the relevant provisions. In the application form for voter registration, an applicant is not required to indicate whether he is a disabled person. Moreover, a registered elector is not required to inform the Registration and Electoral Office (REO) whether he is disabled. Hence, the REO does not have the relevant figures. We have no plans currently to set up such a database.

(b) The REO makes every effort to identify venues suitable for use by disabled persons as polling stations in every election. In the 2004 Legislative Council (LegCo) Election, 294 (or 59 percent) out of the total of 501 polling stations were suitable for use by disabled persons. 

    The REO is identifying venues to be used as polling stations for the 2008 LegCo Election. During the process, it will identify venues suitable for use by disabled persons as far as possible. However, in individual districts, the design of some venues in suitable locations may not include facilities to cater for disabled persons.  Moreover, the availability of these venues is subject to the consent of their owners.  For the 2008 LegCo Election, the REO plans to set up about 520 polling stations. It is estimated that over 70 percent of the stations will be suitable for use by disabled persons.

(c) The Government has all along adopted a multi-pronged approach of publicity measures [including means accessible to both the able-bodied or disabled, such as Announcements in the Public Interest (APIs) on TV and radio, roving voter registration counters and dedicated website], to call upon more eligible persons, irrespective of whether they are able-bodied or disabled, to register as voters and to cast votes on the polling day. Under the current legislation, no one would be disqualified from registration because of his/her disability.

    To facilitate electors to vote, the REO will issue to every elector a poll card to be attached with the location map of the allocated polling station, which also specifies whether the station is suitable for use by disabled persons. For a person with disability, he can apply to the REO five days before the polling day to switch to a polling station suitable for use by disabled persons. The applicant will then be allocated to a polling station close to his residence and suitable for use by disabled persons. If circumstances permit, the REO will arrange Rehabus service for disabled persons through the Hong Kong Society for Rehabilitation to transport them to and from the polling station.

    For the benefit of visually impaired electors, the REO will set up a hotline when the poll cards and Introduction to Candidates are distributed to electors. The hotline provides visually impaired electors with the information on the candidates. On the polling day, the REO will also provide templates to visually impaired electors who choose to mark the ballot paper on their own.

    For those electors who are unable to mark the ballot paper by themselves (due to reading or writing difficulties, visual impairment or other physical problems), they may request the Presiding Officer, the Deputy Presiding Officer or the Assistant Presiding Officer to mark the ballot paper on their behalf. When the relevant officer is marking the ballot paper on behalf of an elector, another polling station staff will act as witness.

    During the training sessions, the REO will remind polling station staff specifically to offer assistance to electors with special needs whenever possible and practicable to facilitate them in casting their votes smoothly. Detailed arrangements for electors with disability will be specified in the staff training manual.

Ends/Wednesday, May 28, 2008