【明報專訊】A LOT OF situations arose in the recent Legislative Council elections, some of which have led to doubts about the legitimacy and impartiality of the election results. The Electoral Affairs Commission, in compliance with the related regulations, is now required to submit a report to the Chief Executive within three months of the conclusion of the elections.
The conduct of the elections was beset with many problems. The first was about the verification of voters' identities and the handing out of ballots, as someone alleged that he had been able to have his identity verified and collect his ballot by producing a copy of his identity card. At first the authorities were equivocal about the matter. After someone from a political party confirmed the allegation in person, the authorities made a clarification: no one can collect his ballot with a copy of his identity card. But they stopped short of explaining why some officers had allowed voters to do so. Second, at the polling stations, some voters found that others had voted on their behalves and that their names on their registers of electors had been crossed out. It is not reasonable to suggest that someone would try to vote twice by playing dumb. Then what really happened? Did someone make a mistake? Did someone do so harbouring some sorts of intentions? The authorities did not offer an answer. Third, a voter found a tick beside the information about candidates on his ballot. To ensure that his vote would not be invalidated, he demanded a new ballot, which was approved by the officers. That was no isolated case. When another voter, who works in the media, tried to vote, he found that a tick had already been stamped in the place where voters indicate their choice. Fourth, at two polling stations at Tai Po and Tseung Kwan O, the votes counted exceeded the number of voters by around 300. It remains unknown what caused the discrepancies.
But the most outrageous is the lack of organisation at polling stations. Many voters chose to cast their votes at dusk or dinner time. But the officers failed to make special arrangements accordingly, and, as a result, voters at Taikoo Shing had to wait in a queue for four to five hours before they could cast their votes. This is unacceptable. The mess at Taikoo Shing was absolutely preposterous. The chief of the Electoral Affairs Commission, however, played down the significance of what had happened by saying that while 370,000 people had voted on Hong Kong Island, there were only 5,000 to 6,000 voters at Taikoo Shing, who in no circumstances could be so crucial as to affect the fairness of the elections. We are convinced that the electoral arrangements should embody absolute legitimacy and impartiality. If relative legitimacy and impartiality were accepted, it would be possible for someone to act arbitrarily, break the law or commit fraud.
The inflexibility on the part of the authorities in charge of electoral affairs and the lack of efficiency in the way they organise elections have rarely been dealt with over the years. Some members of society once suggested the introduction of computers to speed up voting procedures. The suggestion, however, has never been dealt with seriously. The use of computers in voting involves issues like security, so it is difficult to fully computerise the voting experience. But some parts of the procedures can be enhanced with the help of computers. Many voters have had the experience of staying in the queue in busy hours waiting to get their identities verified, when officers were combing through the registers of electors and crossing out names with pens. All this is performed manually at present, which is time-consuming. If this is handled by computers, the verification procedures can be sped up. Time will be saved and ballots will be cast with enhanced efficiency. This will shorten the time voters have to stay at polling stations.