A new provisional registers of electors showed that the number of voters for the information technology sector of the Legislative Council has more than doubled compared to last year. The sector’s lawmaker said that although this may be due to vote-rigging activities, he believed the increase in the number of voters was still a good thing.
The sector’s voters are either from bodies – industry organisations – or individuals who work in the industry and are members of several industry organisations recognised by the Registration and Electoral Office (REO).
There are 404 organisation electors and 11,642 individuals electors in the latest statistics, an increase from 343 organisation electors and 5,307 individual electors in 2015. The 2015 figure had in fact decreased from the figure at the last LegCo election, which was 6,716. The provisional registers, though, are open to inspection by the public before they become final.
IT sector lawmaker Charles Mok told HKFP that both the pro-democracy and the pro-Beijing camps had been campaigning very hard to attract eligible people to register as voters, and it was hard to compare the effort of both sides to tell which side attracted more voters.
But he said the rate of increase was still “unexpected”, saying it was an intrinsic problem in the registration system.
“You can just pay to be registered as a member of an organisation – that made the current situation happen,” he said.
Pay to join
Internet Professionals Association (iProA), a pro-Beijing IT industry organisation, previously offered a HK$50 plan to allow members of a new e-commerce organisation to gain membership. Membership may give them the right to vote in the Information Technology functional constituency in the coming Legislative Council election.
“There must be vote-rigging activities, but we cannot get an estimation,” he said. “Increasing the number of voters is still a good thing.”
Mok said it was difficult to control voters’ preferences no matter how they got the ballot, that he believed in the voters.
There are around 80,000 workers in the industry, according to the Vocational Training Council. Mok said that despite the increase in numbers of voters, most of the industry’s workers have yet to register.
The Legislative Council election was scheduled to be on September 4.
According to the latest statistics in the provisional register, there are now 3,769,032 registered electors in geographical constituencies, a net increase of 75,090 electors compared with last year.
The increase included 170,708 newly registered voters, and the removal of around 22,000 and 73,000 electors that have been put on the omissions list due to death and as a result of the inquiry process respectively.
A list of the age profile of newly registered electors shows a trend that the younger the age group, the more new voters are registered since last year. The 18-20 age group topped with 40,560 new voters, followed by 21-25 with 18,685 voters.
For functional constituencies, around 3.47 million registered electors in the District Council (second) functional constituency are listed in the provisional register, whereas for the other functional constituencies, the number of registered electors is 239,195, including 15,806 bodies voters and 223,389 individuals voters.
Beside the IT sector, several sectors saw large increases in the number of voters from last year:
- Commercial (First): 27.8 percent increase, from 849 to 1,085;
- Sports, Performing Arts, Culture and Publication: 13.3 percent increase, from 2,592 to 2,938;
- Financial Services: 12.9 percent increase, from 551 to 622;
- Industrial (Second): 11.5 percent increase, from 732 to 816;
- Tourism: 11.2 percent increase, from 1,282 to 1,425.
As new contenders have appeared in some of these constituencies, it may not be surprising or illegal if people were encouraging their friends in the field to register.
The Textiles and Garment sector was the only one with a substantial drop in numbers – by nine percent. Changes in numbers of voters in other sectors saw anything between a one percent decrease to 6.18 percent increase.
Members of the public can check their own latest registration particulars and whether they are listed on the omissions lists at the REO’s online system or call the hotline on 2891 1001.
Claims and objections on missing registration and misinformation can be lodged with the REO before June 25.