Voters in quarantine able to cast their ballot: election chief

2021-09-02 03:59     Comment:0

Voters registered for the upcoming Legislative Assembly elections who arrive in Macau on or before 11:59 p.m. on September 11 and are required to undergo quarantine at a local hotel designated by the government will be able to cast their ballot on polling day, September 12, at the hotel where they are staying, Electoral Affairs Commission President Tong Hio Fong announced yesterday.

Tong, a judge by profession, made the announcement during a press briefing at the Public Administration Building on Rua do Campo after a regular meeting of the commission that oversees the direct and indirect elections.

Tong said that in order to be able to exercise their right to vote on polling day, registered voters undergoing quarantine for COVID-19 prevention and control purposes need to apply in advance for a change in the location of the polling station previously assigned to them.

There is no postal voting in Macau. All ballots must be cast in person on polling day.

Public broadcaster TDM reported yesterday that about 400 registered voters are undergoing quarantine.

Tong stressed that registered voters undergoing quarantine who fail to apply for a change in the location of their polling station will not be permitted to cast their vote at the hotel where they are completing their medical observation.

Tong said that polling facilities will be set up in the lobby or another appropriate venue of the respective “quarantine hotel”.

Application forms requesting a change in the location of the polling station have been provided to voters undergoing quarantine, Tong said, adding that, depending on the situation, the forms have been handed to them upon their arrival in Macau at the border checkpoint or hotel.

Tong said that a taskforce comprising officials from the Health Bureau (SSM) and Municipal Affairs Bureau (IAM has been set up to coordinate the voting process for those in quarantine. He stressed that voters at the “quarantine hotels” must wear disposable gloves when marking their ballot, apart from having to wear a facemask during the entire voting procedure.

Meanwhile, Tong reminded all other voters to have their Macau Health Code declaration ready well before arriving at their polling station on election day as this will help speed up the flow of voters entering the polling stations, he said.

The Electoral Affairs Commission yesterday held a meeting with the General Audit Committee of the Legislative Assembly Election – the body responsible for auditing the votes – to discuss the criteria for determining the validity of ballots. Both have reached a basic consensus on the matter, Tong said.

A valid ballot must have a single “tick” mark – applied by the voter using the official chop provided at polling stations. The mark must be inside one of the blue boxes, marked between the voter’s chosen candidacy list and its respective number, Tong pointed out.

Tong said a ballot will be rendered invalid if the ballot paper has been torn or defaced, if a mark has been made and then erased, or if anything has been written on it.

In other developments, Tong revealed that the Electoral Affairs Commission has met with representatives of the Commission Against Corruption (CCAC), Public Security Police (PSP), and Judiciary Police (PJ) to discuss security and anti-graft arrangements for polling day.

4 complaints

Tong told reporters that as of yesterday four complaints had been received about the election campaign. One concerned the allegedly illicit distribution of campaign materials, and the complaint has been forwarded to the CCAC for follow up, Tong said. Another complaint was about allegedly paid online advertising, and has been passed to the Judiciary Police for further investigation. Two further complaints received yesterday morning concerned the allegedly rule-breaking pasting of election campaign posters. Tong said his commission was still assessing the two complaints.

Tong reminded the candidacy lists of their legal obligation to inform the commission in detail about the promotional materials that they plan to distribute among the public, such as how much they cost and how many of the materials they intend to hand out.

At the time of yesterday’s press briefing, the Electoral Affairs Commission had received declarations from nine candidacy lists, according to Tong.

Tong underlined that the Legislative Assembly Election Law does not include specific rules on the value of promotional materials distributed by election campaign teams. Nonetheless, each candidacy list should include the expenditure on such materials in the ledgers required to detail their campaign spending. The overall spending must not exceed the amount set by executive order, otherwise the candidacy list would face penalties, Tong said.

Legislative Assembly Electoral Affairs Commission (CAEAL) President Tong Hio Fong (third from right) briefs reporters yesterday after a closed-door meeting of the commission at the Public Administration Building in Rua do Campo, as fellow commission members Inês Chan Lou (first from left), Iong Kong Leong (second from left), José Maria da Fonseca Tavares (third from left), Lai U Hou (second from right) and Kou Peng Kuan look on. Photo: Prisca Tang

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