A group of pro-democracy District Council hopefuls who were narrowly beaten in Sunday’s election have said that the ballot counting procedures were problematic.

The three candidates are considering filing election petitions to overturn the results.

Pro-democracy candidate Dream Law ran in Ping Shan North constituency in Yuen Long against incumbent councillor Young Ka-on, but lost by just two votes. Law received 2,219 votes and Young received 2,221.

Dream Law
Dream Law. Photo: inmediahk.net.

At a press conference on Thursday, Law accused his rival of violating election rules by hanging banners in locations where such campaigning was not allowed. And some residents had not received his election mailings which he posted out, Law said.

Law also accused Young of shaking hands with voters within no-canvassing zones on election day. He said more than ten villagers threatened residents after they filed complaints to the polling stations’ presiding officer.

Supporters Young Ka-on counting station
Supporters of Young Ka-on inside the counting station. Photo: Dream Law/Stand News.

When votes were being counted, Law said more than 40 villagers were shouting outside the counting station. He said that, when he knew he had lost by two votes, he requested a recount, prompting the villagers to say: “If [Law] wins, we will lock the [counting station’s] doors!”

“Would such remarks constitute pressure upon the presiding officer?” Law asked.

Ballots in unknown envelope

Lee Kan-ming ran in Pat Heung North constituency in Yuen Long against incumbent district councillor Ronnie Tang. Lee lost by 15 votes, receiving 1,833 votes, whilst Tang won 1,848 votes. A third candidate garnered 1,724 votes.

Lee said that the presiding officer allowed voters to cast a ballot after the 10:30pm closing time, if they were already heading to the polling station. Lee also said the officer initially denied access to candidates wishing to witness the vote-counting process. The officer only allowed them to do so after they made a complaint citing election rules, after the first ballot box had been opened, Lee added.

Lee Kan-ming
Lee Kan-ming. Photo: inmediahk.net.

Lee said that, after the first count, there were 19 fewer ballots than the total number of ballots cast. The presiding officer then took out an unknown brown envelope inside the counting station, which the officer said contained blank ballots.

But after Lee checked the envelope, he said it contained a vote for him, as well as five problematic ballots.

“If I did not request a recount, and did not request to see the ballots inside this mysterious envelope for us to check, I would have lost a vote,” he said.

544 problematic votes

Lucia Chiu ran in the Shing Hong constituency in Kwai Tsing against Leung Kar-ming of the DAB party. She received 3,417 votes and her pro-Beijing rival received 3,531.

Lucia Chiu
Lucia Chiu. Photo: inmediahk.net.

But Chiu said that were 544 problematic ballots, of which 514 were counted as valid, significantly affecting the election result. Chiu said many of the problematic votes had multiple crease marks which were unusual for ballots since they were supposed to be folded only once, and many others had black markings.

She said the presiding officer at the count station ignored requests for a recount and forcefully submitted the results of the election without her approval.

“We hope the Electoral Affairs Commission will review the power of presiding officers,” she said.

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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.