Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC) chairman David Lok apologised on Monday about a system glitch that delayed voting in Sunday's District Council elections and said he'd be 'fine' if he ended up being held accountable for the error.
Despite the problem, Lok said more than 1.19 million voters cast their ballots in the directly-elected geographical constituency seats – representing 27.5 percent of the electorate.
The electronic poll register system malfunctioned on Sunday night at 7.42pm, prompting officials to use printed copies instead and extend voting hours by 90 minutes to midnight. The final turnout rate as well as the full results were only announced some eight hours after voting closed.
Addressing reporters on Monday morning, Lok said he felt as if he had let his colleagues and voters down – particularly those who weren’t able to cast ballots due to the glitch.
He appeared to struggle to keep his emotions in check at times, pausing before he could get his words out.
"On Sunday night I was very confident I could give very good scorecard, such that the Electoral Affairs Commission's work can act in concert with the improved District Council electoral system," Lok said.
"Besides feeling helpless, I don't know what to say. We have to be responsible and follow up and investigate [what went wrong]. After the probe if someone needs to be held accountable, that's fine with me."
Lok said he doesn't know how many voters ended up not casting a ballot after deciding to leave their polling stations as a result of the glitch, nor could he provide hourly turnout rates from 8:30pm onwards.
The elections chief explained that officials had not marked the times down on the ballots after they switched to using paper forms.
Chief Executive John Lee has said he is highly concerned about the incident and that he has directed election officials to set up a task force to investigate the cause of the error, with findings expected in three months.