Court rules against initial invalid ballots number

Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Issue 831, Page 1 & 3
Word count: 628
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The Court of Final Appeal (TUI) yesterday overthrew the General Accounting Committee’s (AAG) decision regarding the initial 6,539 invalid votes in the direct legislative election, and ruled that only 41 of those votes could be turned valid.

The unanimous verdict was handed down by three judges – Chu Kin, Viriato Lima and Sam Hou Fai – in favour of the appeal lodged last week by Melinda Chan Mei Yi, one of the 12 new directly elected lawmakers through the September 20 election.

On September 22, the Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC) and the AAG announced in a press conference that of the 6,539 invalid votes, around 83 percent or 5,467 were “in fact valid and be able to show the voting intentions” after the AAG verified them one by one based on a set of “unified standards”.

Although the same 12 candidates remained to be elected, the number of votes each of the 16 lists obtained increased by nine to 1,012 after adding the 5,467 “new valid votes”.

However, according to the verdict, the TUI ruled that only 41 of those 6,539 originally invalid votes could be turned valid, while the remaining 6,498 votes had to remain invalid.

The court also rescinded the supplementary provisions to the invalid ballot standards set by the AAG, which the court deemed were contradictory to the Legislative Election Law.

The judges pointed out that according to Article 120 of the law, if the voting symbols are marked outside of the blank boxes representing each of the lists on ballot papers, such as on the numbers, logos or names of the lists, or other blank areas on the ballot papers, such ballots have to be deemed invalid since they violate Article 110 and Article 65 of the law.

Among the 41 valid votes, seven went to List 1 Macau Guangdong Alliance (UMG), six went to List 2 New Hope (NE), five went to List 3 United Development Alliance (UPPD), one went to List 4 Prosperous Democratic Macao Association (APMD), two went to List 5 Reform and Innovation Alliance (MUDAR), seven went to List 7 United Citizens Association of Macau (ACUM), one went to List 9 Democracy Act-Up (AAPD), nine went to List 12 Union for Development (UPD), two went to List 13 Union for Promoting Progress (UPP), and one went to List 15 New Democratic Macao Association (ANMD).

When compared to the AAG’s announcement last week, the Union for Development (representing the Federation of Trade Unions), for example, was originally given extra 1,012 valid votes, whilst the Union for Promoting Progress (representing the General Union of Neighbourhood Associations, or “Kai Fong”) was given additional 991 valid votes.

As for List 10 New Alliance for the Development of Macao (NUDM), the extra 442 valid votes according to the AAG’s invalid ballot standards have to be taken away following the court’s ruling.

As a result of the TUI verdict, despite the same 12 candidates remained to be elected, the order based on the number of votes each of them obtained has been slightly adjusted.

The positions of Ho Ion San from List 13 UPP and Angela Leong On Kei from List 10 NUDM have been swapped, so that Leong became the fourth candidate to win the race (14,099 votes), while Ho became the one immediately followed (14,044 votes).

The final election results will still need to be verified by the TUI president Sam Hou Fai.

President of the Legislative Assembly, Susana Chou, said that she agreed on the verdict, adding it could comply with the fairness principle in the election law.

Melinda Chan Mei Yi, who was in Beijing yesterday, said that she believed the voters would welcome the ruling and it proved that there is a “legal basis” for Macau elections, TDM Chinese news reported.

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