Date
12 December 2017
Occupy Central organizers (from left) Chan Kin-man, Benny Tai Yiu-ting and Chu Yiu-ming say the June 20-22 poll will be extended by a week after hackers attacked the voting system. Photo: HKEJ
Occupy Central organizers (from left) Chan Kin-man, Benny Tai Yiu-ting and Chu Yiu-ming say the June 20-22 poll will be extended by a week after hackers attacked the voting system. Photo: HKEJ

Occupy Central extends June 22 vote after hacker attacks

Hacker attacks on Occupy Central’s online voting system have prompted movement organizers to extend the June 20-22 poll by a week until June 29, Ming Pao Daily reported Thursday.

Organizers said that any more attacks on the system could lead to a further extension, possibly past July 1. About 100,000 ballots have been printed in case online voting is paralyzed.

The mock referendum will be held via the PopVote system of the University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Program. The system started taking voter registrations over mobile phones on Friday but the computer servers of its three service providers have come under large-scale distributed denial-of-service attacks. One of the three had up to 10 billion system inquiries within 20 hours, paralyzing the system. 

Campaign founder Benny Tai said the best solutions to counter hacker attacks are “low-tech” methods such as casting a ballot in person.

Tai said 100,000 people casting a vote in person could have a bigger effect than 200,000 people voting online. He also said the hackers’ efforts will only spark a bigger response from the Hong Kong public.

University of Hong Kong law faculty dean Johannes Chan said he previously had reservations about voting on June 22 but he will reconsider in light of the attacks. He said the hacker attacks will only encourage more people to vote.

Robert Chung, director of the Public Opinion Program, said he is confident the online voting system will not fail completely.

But if the online vote cannot go ahead, back-up solutions, such as an extended voting time, will be in place. Chung said the seven-day extension is meant to ensure the original target of 800,000 people can cast a vote if the online system cannot cope, the report said.

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