District council elections marred by electoral system failure, Chairman of Electoral Affairs Commission apologises and promises accountability

David Lok

11th December 2023 – (Hong Kong) The Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC) announced yesterday night that a malfunction in the Electronic Poll Register system has led to the adoption of printed-form final registers for issuing ballot papers in all polling stations of the 2023 District Council Ordinary Election. This development follows the extension of polling hours until midnight to allow affected electors to cast their votes.

In a press conference earlier today, David Lok, Chairman of the Electoral Affairs Commission and former judge of the High Court’s Court of First Instance, expressed his apologies for the incidents and became emotional while addressing the matter. “Although there were some incidents in this election… I truly hope that everyone… I hope… does not overlook this election,” he said, his voice choked with emotion. He went on to explain, “Why did I choke up? Because I feel guilty towards all my diligent colleagues.” Lok received comforting gestures from the personnel present, who gently patted his back.

During the briefing, Lok stated that, overall, the voting and vote-counting processes proceeded relatively smoothly, and the election arrangements exemplified principles of openness, honesty, and fairness. He expressed his satisfaction with the overall arrangements and mentioned that the Electoral Affairs Commission would submit a report to the Chief Executive within the required three-month timeframe. Lok once again apologized to the affected voters, candidates, teams, residents, and the media for any inconvenience caused.

Lok emphasised the significance of the election and urged the public not to overlook it, considering the efforts made by numerous government officials. He stressed that, despite the “incidents” that occurred, the election was generally successful. “Although there were some incidents in this election. I truly hope that everyone does not overlook this election. Many colleagues have made efforts. The election was generally successful, despite the incidents. My colleagues displayed great professionalism and were able to utilise what they had learned as contingency plans when faced with difficulties,” said Lok.

When questioned about accountability, Lok acknowledged the criticisms and assured that they would be taken seriously. He even stated that if the government deemed him unfit for the job, he would not mind. He expressed regret if any citizens who he urged to exercise their civic duty were unable to vote due to the inadequate performance of the Electoral Affairs Commission. Lok highlighted the highly trained and efficient staff members but lamented that their capabilities were hindered by the incident.