Around 30,000 government workers could be allowed to cast their votes for next year's Legislative Council elections a week early.
Officials are proposing the pilot scheme because some staff will be busy on the actual polling day with election-related duties. But the idea hasn't received universal backing from lawmakers, with several raising concerns about security and the possibility of vote tampering.
Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Secretary Patrick Nip told lawmakers that the idea of making it easier for election staff to cast their own ballots came from the Electoral Affairs Commission.
The plan it has come up with for the 2020 elections is to allow 21,000 polling staff and 9,000 other government workers to vote a week early at a limited number of polling stations that would be open for a shorter period of time than usual.
But in Legco, several lawmakers from both sides of the aisle said officials would have to make sure that ballot papers are kept safe, so there is no chance of vote tampering.
Civic Party legislator Tanya Chan said her concerns about this stem from the 2017 Chief Executive election, when two laptops containing personal data on 3.7 million voters were stolen.
"We really worry about how they're going to keep safe the ballot papers for a total of seven days," she said.
But New People's Party lawmaker Regina Ip said the authorities must have learnt their lesson, and she believes it is important for the government to encourage greater participation of voters.
"In the longer term, we should also facilitate polling by Hong Kong permanent residents outside Hong Kong, beginning with those on the mainland," she said.
The constitutional affairs chief Patrick Nip said if the plan is approved, it will be reviewed after next year's polls to see whether other groups of people can be allowed to vote early as well.