Officially over after 50 hours of waiting

Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Issue 826, Page 1 & 3
Word count: 772
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The 12 lawmakers-elect were finally relieved 50 hours after the direct legislative election ended at 9pm on Sunday, when the General Accounting Committee announced the official results in a press conference at 11pm last night.

The same 12 candidates were confirmed to enter the Legislative Assembly, but only the numbers of votes they got eventually were different from those announced in the provisional results, since 6,539 votes were deemed as invalid initially by the staff at some polling stations.

The new directly elected lawmakers, in the order of the numbers of votes obtained, are –

Kwan Tsui Hang (List 12 UPD – 22,101 votes), Chan Meng Kam (List 7 ACUM – 17,775), Ng Kuok Cheong (List 4 APMD – 16,907), Ho Ion San (List 13 UPP – 15,033), Angela Leong On Kei (List 10 NUDM – 14,541), Jose Pereira Coutinho (List 2 NE – 13,159), Au Kam San (List 15 ANMD – 11,303), Lee Chong Cheng (List 12 UPD – 11,050.5), Mak Soi Kun (List 1 UMG – 10,827), Ung Choi Kun (List 7 ACUM – 8,887.5), Chan Wai Chi (List 4 APMD – 8,453.5) and Melinda Chan Mei Yi (List 5 MUDAR – 8,191).

The official election results have also been posted on the ground floor of the Public Administration Building in Rua do Campo.

Yet, the Court of Final Appeal will still need to approve and legalise the results.

The General Accounting Committee (AAG) started to verify all the 149,006 votes at 11am on Monday according to the Legislative Election Law.

In the joint press conference held by the Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC) and the AAG, AAG president Mai Man Ieng announced that 147,223 votes were valid, 1,072 were invalid and 711 were blank.

Mr Mai also announced that of the 6,539 votes which were originally considered as invalid on the election day, around 83 percent or 5,467 were in fact valid and able to show the voting intentions after the AAG verified them one by one based on “unified standards” over the past two days.

An increase between nine and up to 1,002 votes was registered in each of the 16 lists, after turning those 5,467 votes into valid.

EAC president Fong Man Chong admitted that there is room to improve, but did not comment on whether someone should be responsible for the distinctive discrepancy between the two figures of invalid votes.

Mr Fong said having taken two days to verify all the votes was not unacceptable, when compared to past examples in other countries which took three days and nights to complete the process.

He reiterated that the EAC and AAG had “strictly complied with the law” in the voting recounting process.

According to Mr Mai, the law does not say that the stamps must have to be chopped inside the boxes on the ballot papers, “Article 128 in the election law says as long as the ballots can show voters’ intentions, they should be deemed as valid”.

“The interpretations of the law of the polling stations’ staff may be different from ours, but we [AAG] verified the votes based on the law and an equal standard to each of the lists”,” Mr Mai said.

The EAC president said the public doubted whether the distinctive discrepancy between the numbers of invalid votes was due to the design of the ballot papers, the stamps, and a lack of training for staff workers or unclear guidelines given to polling stations.

However, he said the authorities had already “tried their best to prevent any situation”, adding “I can’t see any correlation between using the stamps and invalid votes”.

“The result showed that it was the executive presidents at the polling stations who executed the guidelines differently, which should not have happened,” Mr Fong said.

“Even though we had done tremendous research, training and given clear guidelines, in reality there were differences in the operation, and that’s why we have the General Accounting Committee,” he added.

Yet, the EAC president said he acknowledged the room to improve.

“In the future, we will have to reinforce staff training, their contingency responses and understanding of the election law, also to review the use of computers in polling stations and further polish the law,” he added.

Mr Fong also said that society should not deny the advancement in the quality of the election and voters this year by simply looking at the invalid votes.

The EAC will have to prepare a report to the government shortly regarding the performance in the election, and the president said the “invalid vote incident” must be highlighted there and measures will be proposed to prevent it from happening again.

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