Enhancement of Voter Registration System

In the wake of various media reports on vote rigging and possible fraud in voting and voter registration, the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau in November 2015 issued a Consultation Paper on Enhancement of Voter Registration System.

The Bureau in the Consultation Paper proposes:

(a) fine-tuning of voter registration and checking arrangements;
(b) increasing penalties on voter registration offences;
(c) reviewing the objection mechanism;
(d) clarifying various time limits for processing objection cases; and
(e) introducing a requirement for proof of address under certain circumstances.

The Bureau sought views on its above proposals.

The Constitutional Affairs and Human Rights Committee of the Law Society reviewed the Consultation Paper, and discussed specifically the proposed requirement on proof of address.

Under the proposal, the Government Bureau said they may consider requiring applicants to submit proof of address when submitting applications for new registrations or changing their registration particulars. The Bureau was of the view that provision of proof of address can effectively improve the accuracy of the information in the registers and bolster the credibility of the voter registration system as a whole.

The Committee took note of the above, but considered that there are groups of people who may not be able to produce valid proof of address for various legitimate reasons. Such failure to produce proof of address should not result in an individual’s voting rights being revoked. The Council endorsed the views of the Committee and invited the Bureau to re-consider this proposal on address proof.

The Law Society’s full submission is available at http://www.hklawsoc.org.hk/pub_e/news/submissions/20160105.pdf.