Voters urged to pay attention to correct polling procedures

The Electoral Affairs Commission for the Legislative Assembly Election (CAEAL) has urged voters to pay close attention to the correct polling procedures.

The president of the commission, Tong Hio Fong, issued the reminder yesterday as he toured a mock polling station set up at the Macau Forum building. The mock station will remain open until Friday, and is being provided to inform the public about correct voting procedures to reduce the number of spoilt ballots.

The Legislative Assembly elections are to be held on Sunday. All forty-two polling stations – in aggregate covering the direct and indirect elections – will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. that day.

A valid ballot should feature a single “check” mark – by using the official chop provided at polling stations – affixed inside the blue box located between the number of the candidate lists and their respective names. Tong reiterated that a ballot would be considered invalid if it were stamped in more than one place, or stamped in any box on the ballot paper reserved for any election team that had withdrawn from the election.

The CAEAL president reiterated that voting will be completely confidential. No recording devices will be set up inside voting booths and booths will be covered from top to bottom with translucent curtains. Voters are not permitted to use mobile phones and other recording devices inside the polling stations or to take photograph of ballot paper. It is also prohibited to disclose one’s vote or ask about another person’s voting intentions within 100 meters of the polling station.

Election campaigning activities are prohibited during the compulsory cooling-off period set for Saturday and on Sunday. During the cooling-off period, the Legislative Assembly Election Law also prohibits any public display of clothing containing numbers or symbols for any election team and any material in relation to any election team.

In addition, Mr Tong said the Commission had been paying close attention to the weather forecast for Sunday and had contingency plans in the event of adverse weather.

Tong: private schools taking sides acceptable

Asked to comment on the fact that at least two local schools asked parents to vote for a candidate, Tong Hio Fong stated that the Legislative Assembly Election Law “only stipulates that public entities and specific organizations have to remain impartial in the election.” According to the CAEAL head, private organizations, such as non-government-run schools, were not regulated in this aspect. However, Tong urged “such schools however to take this election as an opportunity to promote awareness of fair and just election practices and to educate students to fulfil their civic responsibilities,” according to a statement issued by the Government Information Bureau.

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