The registered residential addresses of many voters for the rural representative election this year were found to be full of flaws, Ming Pao Daily reported Monday.
At the Kwu Tung Village in Sheung Shui, for example, 5 percent of the voters’ home addresses were incomplete, with only the village name stated in the registration. Candidates complain that the lack of valid addresses makes it impossible for them to contact the voters and campaign.
Last year the Electoral Affairs Commission asked the government to introduce more measures to verify voter information.
Ming Pao reporters conducted random spot checks of voters from the 27 rural committees included in the rural representative election this year, and found many of their home addresses were incomplete.
The Home Affairs Bureau said it is trying to reach voters with incomplete personal information and, if needed, will conduct home visits to sort out the problem.
Lee Siu-wah, chairman of the Kwu Tung North Development Concern Group and a candidate in the coming election, said the incomplete voter information on the register raises suspicions.
“Who are these people? Do they really live in the village?” Lee said. “As the voter base for a village representative is only several hundred people, several dozens of ghost voters could alter the election results.”
Nam Siu-fu, incumbent village representative for Kwu Tung North who is running for re-election, sought to allay such concerns, saying many villagers find it hard to provide complete addresses because there were no street numbers at the time their village houses were constructed.
Mail and other postal deliveries are usually sent to a large mail collection box at the entrance of the village or through the convenience store, Nam explained.
“It is not unfair and it does not give me an advantage,” Nam said. “If you are seeking to be elected as representative, you ought to get to know each villager well in person, otherwise how could they vote for you?”
Political commentator Ivan Choy said a lot of economic interests are at stake in the coming election as village representatives have access to key information on land allocation and other development projects in the New Territories.
And since there are more interests involved in this exercise than those associated with District Council elections, the government should put in more effort in voter verification, Choy said.
The government has prosecuted people for falsifying their addresses in the voter registration for last year’s District Council elections, Choy said, adding that the same level of vigilance should be applied in the rural representative election.
There are 189,538 registered voters for this year’s rural representative election, up 3.7 percent from the 182,702 in the last election.
A total of 1,779 candidates are vying for 1,484 village representative posts, including 789 indigenous inhabitant representatives and 695 resident representatives.
These village representatives could also become committee members of the 27 rural committees, and ultimately committee members of the Heung Yee Kuk (Rural Council), which has the right to take part in the formulation of policies for the New Territories.
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