New laws requiring citizens to show their original Hong Kong identity cards (HKID) to vote will come into effect on December 1. If voters have lost their identity cards, they will need to present extra documents, other than a photocopy, in order to cast their ballot.

The amendment regulations were published in the Gazette and tabled at the Legislative Council in June by a negative vetting process.

In the September 2016 LegCo election, a pro-democracy candidate was able to cast a ballot after providing a photocopy of her identity card.

Erica yuen
Erica Yuen using her photocopied ID card to cast a ballot. Photo: Facebook.

The government said the current practice may cause misunderstandings over which documents are acceptable as proof of identity, and the Electoral Affairs Commission had suggested amending the law.

Undersecretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Andy Chan said at a LegCo session on Monday that lawmakers had not voiced opposition during a previous consultation over the requirement to show original identity cards.

The amendments listed five alternative measures if voters had lost their identity cards:

  • the original of an acknowledgement of application for the HKID issued by the Immigration Department when the person has applied for, but is awaiting, the issuance of an HKID;
  • the original of the person’s valid HKSAR Passport;
  • the original of the person’s valid seaman’s identity book issued by the Immigration Department;
  • the original of the person’s valid document of identity for visa purposes, or Doc/I, issued by the Immigration Department;
  • a document evidencing a report to a police officer of the loss or destruction of the person’s identity document, together with the original of a valid passport or similar travel document or the Home Return Permit, and a copy of an identity document in paper form.

Chan said the latter measure was for people who did not have time to go to the Immigration Department offices – which are closed most weekends – to apply for an identity card. Police stations are always open.

Starry Lee
Starry Lee. Photo: LegCo screenshot.

But some pro-Beijing camp lawmakers voiced concerns over some of the measures, which they say are too strict.

“No offence, but you do not know the actual situation well,” said Starry Lee. “Many elderly people – not just those living in elderly homes – do not bring their identity cards with them on the streets.”

Yiu Si-wing said that, regarding the last measure, some elderly people may not have any other travel documents if they lose their identity cards. Plus, they may not have a photocopy of their identity cards: “Is there any room for a concession?” he asked.

Chan responded, saying that not all circumstances can be taken care of: “Thus, promotion [of the new policies] is important. We have asked the Registration and Electoral Office to increase promotion.”

Paul Tse said his partner Pamela Peck, a former politician, has a bad memory and often let him keep her HKID: “I believe such situations are common.”

Tse also questioned the need for a photocopy, as Chan replied that the photocopy can provide the HKID number: “With the number, we can check the registers of electors,” Chan said.

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.