Historic District Council election draws to a close - RTHK
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Historic District Council election draws to a close

2019-11-24 HKT 23:01
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  • Some voters were still waiting at polling stations after 10.30pm. Photo: RTHK
    Some voters were still waiting at polling stations after 10.30pm. Photo: RTHK
At least 2.8 million people voted on Sunday in the city’s first election since the outbreak of widespread anti-government protests in June.

By 9.30pm, an hour before polls were due to close, some 2.85 million had cast their ballots, representing 69 percent of the electorate.

Voter numbers and voter turnout both surpassed previous records set during the Legislative Council election in 2016.

But as time ticked down to the official closing of polling stations at 10.30pm, parties on both sides of the political divide were still making urgent appeals for supporters to vote in a keenly contested local election that some are framing as a referendum on the city’s leadership and its handling of the nearly six months of unrest.

Fears of continued clashes led to the government ordering that riot police be stationed at polling stations across the city’s 18 districts.

The Electoral Affairs Commission said voting had passed by relatively smoothly, although there were more complaints than in previous years and many people had to wait for more than an hour for their turn to vote as long lines snaked around polling stations.

The EAC had urged people intending to vote not to leave it too late, but said anyone who was in line at polling stations before 10.30pm would be allowed to cast their ballot before counting commenced.

Nonetheless, some people still left their trips to the ballot box to the last minute.

Dozens of people were still waiting at a long queue at the polling station for the King Lam constituency in Tseung Kwan O at 10.30pm. A polling officer was stationed at the entrance to the queue to stop anyone from joining the line.

At the Lok Tsui constituency in Tuen Mun, a citizen arrived just before the polling station closed. He said he went to the polling station in the morning but left after seeing more than 300 people in the queue and thought he was lucky to finally make it after work.

The Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Patrick Nip, said he had always believed the majority of Hong Kong people would like to express their opinions and resolve differences in a peaceful and rational manner.

In a Facebook post, he thanked the tens of thousands of polling staff for their work to make sure the election went ahead safely and orderly despite months of social unrest.