Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Tuesday said polling stations will be set up at several border control points that are currently closed, to help Hong Kong residents living on the mainland cast their ballots in Legco elections next month.
But Lam told reporters ahead of the weekly Executive Council meeting that this will be only a one-off arrangement amid the Covid-19 pandemic, adding that voters on the mainland will have to register with the authorities before election day and indicate which checkpoint they will use.
At the moment, only the Shenzhen Bay checkpoint and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge are operating.
The CE said the central government has agreed to exempt the voters from quarantine on the mainland after they return from the polling stations.
"After they cast the ballots at the temporary polling stations in Hong Kong, they are not allowed to leave the area and enter the community. They must return to the mainland at once under the closed-loop arrangement," she said.
Lam dismissed suggestions that the move is to boost the voter turnout rate: "To be honest, it won't boost much anyway or affect the turnout rate significantly."
She also clarified that the government has never proposed consolidating the turnout rates in the three types of constituencies, saying in fact "the SAR government objects to any changes."
Lam said the turnout rate in the geographical, functional and election committee constituencies will be counted separately as this is what Hong Kong people are used to.
She said more details on the voting arrangement at the border will be announced later in the week.