Polls for the Legislative Council New Territories East drew to a close at 10:30pm with a voting turnout rate of 46.1 per cent. Out of 940,366 eligible voters in the constituency, 434,000 cast their ballot, according to Electoral Affairs Commission chairman Barnabas Fung

The figure is around 7 per cent percent lower than the turnout rate for the Legislative Council election in 2012, but 28.87 percent than the turnout at the 2010 five-district referendum.

During the day, the Election Affairs Commission received 339 complaints, mostly related to election ads.

Senior politics lecturer at Chinese University of Hong Kong Ivan Choy Chi-keung said that generally, by-elections always had a lower turnout rate. He believed that the turnout on Sunday was quite high because of recent social and political confrontations, RTHK reported.

A young elector who cast her vote for the first time told RTHK that she came forward because of the protests in recent years. “There’s been a lot of political events lately, such as the [2014] Occupy protests and the unrest in Mong Kok, and I want to fulfil my civic responsibility. I mostly looked at their manifestos,” she said.

New Territories East By-election
New Territories East by-election campaigners. Photo: Chantal Yuen/HKFP.

Violent clashes between protesters and the police broke out earlier this month, triggered by the government’s clearing of street hawkers. Amongst those arrested in connection with the protest was localist group Hong Kong Indigenous’ Edward Leung Tin-kei, a candidate in the election.

As polls drew to a close, candidates Edward Leung and Civic Party’s Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu were photographed shaking hands with each other in Tseung Kwan O.

yeung alvin leung edward
Yeung and Leung shaking hands with each other.

The by-election was triggered by the resignation of former Civic Party lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah last year. Tong said on Facebook that he had struggled between the candidates, and in the end voted “according to his political ideology”. RTHK reported that he did not vote for the Civic Party.

According to Hong Kong Research Association – widely regarded to be pro-establishment in affiliation – it is a close call between Yeung and pro-Beijing DAB’s Holden Chow, i-Cable TV reported. As of 10:30pm, Yeung is predicted to be leading with 33.2 percent of the votes.

Counting stations were opened to the public shortly after polls closed. A media centre was set up at Tiu Keng Leng Sports Centre in Tseung Kwan O, where results of the by-election will be announced. It will also be posted on the elections website.

Candidates in the by-election included Lau Chi-Sing, Nelson Wong Sing-chi, Holden Chow Ho-ding, Albert Leung Sze-ho, Christine Fong Kwok-shan, Edward Leung Tin-kei and Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.