Too early to campaign: So far five warnings were issued against Assembly candidates

Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Issue 795, Page 3
Word count: 553
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The Legislative Assembly Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC) said some candidates appeared to start campaigning prior to the official campaign period which prompted the issuance of more than five warnings so far.

The commission yesterday arranged for local media in its office a simulation of the voting process in the September 20 direct legislative election.

EAC president Fong Man Chong said they had received more than 15 complaints, of which some were transferred from the Commission Against Corruption (CCAC) and organisations, concerning campaign activities being launched by some candidates before the official campaign period starts on September 5.

Mr Fong said over five verbal or written warnings were given to the relevant candidates after the complaints were found substantial.

Yet, he did not disclose further details regarding what kinds of campaign activities those candidates had launched improperly recently.

The EAC president also said that since most of the complaints were anonymous, the commission was unable to obtain more information from the complainants or follow up the matter.

On the other hand, Mr Fong said the EAC never approved or authorised any organisations to carry out surveys about which candidates lists people prefer to vote for.

He said the EAC acknowledged such kind of investigations being conducted on streets or telephone, and added that they had never received any reports from those organisations regarding the survey results.

“It’s an explicit act to spy on voters’ voting intentions and involves a privacy issue,” he said.

“Voters have the right to choose not to answer to the questions. They have to deal with it cautiously if they are being asked in public places,” he added.

Exclusive stamps

The EAC also said yesterday that voters will be required to mark their ballot papers with an exclusive stamp provided in each of the polling booths set up in the 28 polling stations.

Mr Fong said ballots marked by pens or stamps other than the EAC designated ones will be deemed as invalid.

The use of stamps is to “more effectively identify voters’ voting intentions” and minimise the number of invalid votes to a certain extent, he added.

According to the past two legislative elections, some ballot papers were deemed as invalid since the ticks voters drew there were “too big that extended to more than one box”.

Training will be given to staff workers shortly regarding how to define whether a vote is valid or not, and a set of guidelines will also be issued for them to follow.

In addition, Mr Fong said the EAC will soon open a simulated polling station in a local school for people, especially the elderly, who wish to try using the exclusive stamps prior to the actual election day.

On September 20, voters will have to go to the polling station assigned in advance by the EAC and present their Macau Permanent Identity Cards in order to collect a ballot paper. Afterwards they will mark the ballots by an exclusive stamp in a booth, fold the papers inward twice and then drop them into a large plastic box before being allowed to leave the venue.

Mr Fong said the stamps will be replaced by new ones in regular intervals during the day, but he believed that the cost will not be huge although the EAC is still waiting for the price quotation.

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