Hong Kong ballot papers taken home by officers ahead of poll

Officers from the Registration and Electoral Office were seen distributing ballot papers to polling staff before election day

Government

The 2016 Legislative Council elections will be held this Sunday, September 4. Officers from the Registration and Electoral Office (REO) were seen distributing ballot papers to polling staff earlier today, FactWire News Agency reports.

FactWire reporters saw queues for registration and distribution of electoral materials such as Final Registers and ballot papers. Up to four recipients representing one polling station were each given a black suitcase with “REO” printed on the front. Reporters also observed REO staff putting ballot papers sealed in transparent plastic bags into the suitcases. Around 10 to 20 recipients of the black suitcases waited in line for taxis outside the building lobby.

A Yuen Long resident told FactWire that he shared a lift with a person carrying a suitcase labelled “REO” on his way home two days ago. The design of suitcase resembles the ones seen by FactWire today.

FactWire acquired the “2016 Legislative Council General Election – Operational Manual for Presiding Officers, Deputy Presiding Officers, Assistant Presiding Officers and District Liaison Officers” issued by REO. According to Part 3 of the manual, officers of each assigned polling station can collect a portion of ballot papers and other crucial electoral materials at the time specified by REO, which is within a week before the Election commences.

Polling station officers should collect electoral materials that include ballot papers separately packed into 4 bags: Geographical Constituency (GC) ballot papers, District Council (DC) (second) Functional Constituency (FC) ballot papers, FC ballot papers for electors assigned to cast votes for the FCs concerned at the polling station and reserved FC ballot papers for all contested FCs. In addition, they should collect a list showing the serial numbers of the ballot papers for distribution from REO.

The manual emphasises the importance of the ballot papers. Polling station officers must verify the quantity and serial numbers when collecting them from REO. Ballot papers will be then sealed in tamper-proof plastic bags to ensure that they will not be tampered with after the officers have collected them from REO. REO staff and the officers concerned should sign on the seals to be attached to the plastic bags. The bags should not be opened until arrival at the polling station on the polling day. 

Around 570 ordinary polling stations and 24 dedicated polling stations will be set up for this year’s LegCo election.

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