Sunday, 22 November 2015

Get Out the Vote

Today was the District Council election and already by 11.30am there was a reported increase in voter turnout of over 340,000, up 10.9 percent from last time.

There are 867 candidates fighting for 363 seats. The pan-democrats didn't do well last time and so it will be interesting to gauge public sentiment a year after the Occupy protests.

In Kennedy Town, the candidates had their armies of volunteers out in force, handing out flyers and holding banners, and the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB) had a van blaring out messages as it went through the neighbourhood.

I went to vote and it was a very quick process. I just had to show my Hong Kong ID card -- the voter card wasn't even necessary -- and then I was given a ballot and an ink stamp with a tick on it. The ballots include the candidates' pictures and names making it easy to vote.

And then we had to fold the ballot and stick it in the box. Done!

When I walked out of the polling station, I was stopped by a university student who was doing exit polling for the University of Hong Kong Public Opinion Programme. She asked a number of questions, such as who I voted for, why I voted for that candidate, when did I made that decision, did I take part in the protests last year, as well as my age and occupation.

This survey should be very interesting, as it will give a clearer profile of the voters and their motivations to vote.

There weren't many people voting when I was there, though there was a large group of police officers at the entrance -- checking their phones.

Kennedy Town is pretty much a DAB stronghold so I'm not expecting big changes here. Complicating the vote are two pan-democratic candidates, Sin Cheuk-nam of the Democractic Party and Chow Sai-kit from Youngspiration, who is an "Umbrella Soldier".

Chow is one of the activists from last year's protests who believes going into politics and running for a seat will help influence government at a local level. It's an admirable idea -- and he was still out on the streets passionately voicing his stance this evening before the polls closed, in the hopes of persuading some people to vote for him.

It will be interesting to see how these newcomers perform in this election as well, but in Kennedy Town the pan-democratic vote is split so it won't go very far...

Throughout the campaign it was very quiet until the last few days. Perhaps it reflects how Hong Kong people do everything at the last minute?!

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