A pro-democracy civil group has launched an unofficial referendum for the chief executive election to encourage electors to vote for candidates backed by the wider public.

The public can vote using messaging app Telegram between Friday noon and March 19, or at three polling stations set up at universities on March 12 and 19.

The project organised by the Citizens United in Action and led by law professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting aims at attracting over a million participants. Unless there is evidence that the voting was interfered with, about 20 electors have agreed to follow the results and will vote for the highest-rated candidate.

chief executive referendum
Chief executive referendum. FIle Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

It came after the pro-democracy camp’s 300-odd electors previously agreed that they will refer to the poll.

Participants can give a support, objection or abstain vote towards three candidates: Carrie Lam, John Tsang or Woo Kwok-hing. The final result for each candidate will be counted by deducting objection and abstain votes from support votes of each candidate.

“There is a reason to look at the net support rate – we hope the new chief executive can mend the split in society,” said legal sector elector Eric Cheung Tat-ming.

“If there is a candidate who, from a million voters, got 900,000 objection votes – I believe this message… may affect the central government or the pro-Beijing camp electors – they would have to think about it again.”

The poll also asks participants to answer if they support or oppose the existing model of electing the chief executive.

Eric Cheung Tat-ming.
Eric Cheung Tat-ming.

Cheung said if the number of participants was lower than a million, professionals from the University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Programme and the Polytechnic University’s Centre for Social Policy Studies will analysis the result to see how representative the poll was.

In 2012, a similar poll attracted 200,000 “voters”. The most popular option was “abstention”, which beat all three candidates. In 2014, a poll on political reform proposals had 800,000 participants.

The current project is also seeking to crowdfund HK$1.5 million to cover costs. It had received 32 per cent of the goal as of Friday.

The three polling stations:

  • University of Hong Kong student union near Haking Wong Building: March 12 and 19 between 10:30am and 10:30pm
  • Polytechnic University V109-111: March 12 and 19 between 10:30am and 10:30pm
  • Chinese University Yasumoto International Academic Park: March 12 between 10:30am and 6pm

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.