Hong Kong’s new Legislative Council (LegCo) chosen under the city’s overhauled electoral system “will increase the administration efficacy of the SAR, and start a new chapter for good governance,” Chief Executive Carrie Lam said in a statement published on Sunday night, as the city was on track for its lowest ever general election turnout.

2021 LegCo Election: Stanley Ng Chau-pei, head of the Hong Kong Federation of Unions, is canvassing in Siu sai wan.
Stanley Ng Chau-pei, head of the Hong Kong Federation of Unions, is canvassing in Siu sai wan. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

“I expect to cooperate sincerely with the new LegCo, pushing Hong Kong to develop economically together, blending in the country’s overall development, and being dedicated in improving people’s livelihoods, building Hong Kong, and contributing to the country,” said Lam in a statement published within an hour of polls closed in the city’s first “patriots-only” election.

2021 legco election: Chief Executive Carrie Lam casted her ballot at the Raimondi College poling station.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam cast her ballot at the Raimondi College poling station. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

As of 9:30 p.m., 1,309,601 people, or 29.28 per cent of all registered electors, had cast their vote in the first LegCo election after a sweeping overhaul was implemented to Hong Kong’s electoral system to ensure “patriots” govern Hong Kong.

The move reduced democratic representation in the legislature, tightened control of elections and introduced a pro-Beijing vetting panel to select candidates.

2021 LegCo Election: A polling station in Taikoo.
A polling station in Tai Koo. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

The Hong Kong government said the overhaul would ensure the city’s stability and prosperity. But the changes also prompted international condemnation, as it made it near-impossible for pro-democracy candidates to stand.

1998 2000 2004 2008 2012 2016 2021
By 3:30pm707,653
839,563 18.77%
By 9:30pm1,378,371
Voter turnout in past legislative polls. Source: Electoral Affairs Commission.

See also: Candidates blame ‘insufficient’ gov’t promo and free transport as city on track for lowest turnout

“I sincerely thank the over 1.3 million electors who voted today, not only can their vote choose a LegCo councillor in their mind, [they are] also supporting the improved electoral system, and a reflecting their expectation for the SAR to increase its administrative efficacy in order to develop the economy and improve livelihoods,” said Lam in the statement.

Extended polling times

Justice Barnabas Fung, chair of the Electoral Affairs Commission, spoke to the press on Sunday evening and said that several polling stations will see their polling times extended, in order to make up for delays caused by technical difficulties.

Barnabas Fung
Justice Barnabas Fung meeting the press at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on December 19, 2021. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

Polling times at 11 polling stations were extended, either due to technical hitches or because more time was needed to “complete specific procedures before the start of the poll.”

See also: Chief Exec. Lam says she’s not responsible for turnout

Six stations, including Caritas St. Joseph Secondary School, HKSKH Saint Thomas’ Church, Tsing Yi Trade Association Primary School, Kowloon Technical School, Buddhist Lim Kim Tian Memorial Primary School, and Po Leung Kuk Tian Teck Proactive Concern Centre for the Elderly, saw an extension of 10 minutes or more.

Polling irregularities

Citizen News reported that some Election Committee constituency candidates, including Nixie Lam and Horace Cheung from the pro-Beijing DAB, were taking photos inside the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) – the polling and counting station for the 1,448-member Election Committee constituency.

2021 LegCo Election vote counting
Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

According to guidelines issued by the Electoral Affairs Commission, the entire area is a no canvassing zone.

See also: Hong Kong offers free transport on ‘patriots’ election day, but citizens seize chance to travel around city

When reporters asked whether candidates handing out name cards or taking photos in the HKCEC constituted a violation of the commission’s guidelines, Fung said that no canvassing zones ban any type of campaigning or suspected campaigning.

2021 LegCo Election vote counting
Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

“If those actions constitute canvassing, then it’s a violation of the regulation. Because these matters might be electoral offences, I will not comment here,” said Fung.

Border polling stations

Three polling stations were set up at border control points between Hong Kong and mainland China at the Lo Wu, Lok Ma Chau and Heung Yuen Wai Boundary control points, as the city has yet to resume quarantine-free travel with mainland China.

HK01 reported that several tour buses were seen sending eligible voters to the Lo Wu polling station, with some wearing identical masks, and some were staff members of Chinese organisations.

‘Resting at home’

Meanwhile, Stand News reported that former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, who is also the vice-chairperson of National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, did not vote in the city’s first “patriots-only” legislative race.

Tung Chee-hwa
Tung Chee-hwa. File Photo: Our Hong Kong Foundation.

Tung said via a spokesperson that he was “resting at home,” and could not vote. “As always, Mr. Tung hopes that people will vote enthusiastically in the Legislative Council election, and Hong Kong continues to be prosperous and stable,” the spokesperson said.

All election candidates are listed in full here

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.