SCMP Saturday, September 9, 2000
Rain won't dampen turnout: watchdog
CHOW CHUNG-YAN and MARTIN WONG
Bad weather would not hurt turnout in the Legislative Council election, the head of the polls watchdog, Mr Justice Woo Kwok-hing, said yesterday.
The Electoral Affairs Commission chairman said he believed nothing less than a typhoon would dampen voters' enthusiasm. He expected a massive turnout.
Asked whether he was worried by surveys predicting a low turnout, Mr Justice Woo said: "Don't believe in polls. I don't because last time the poll anticipated the turnout rate to be bad because of heavy downpours, but the result was very good."
He urged people to vote even if "they don't have any particular candidate in mind", but added he was not encouraging blank ballots.
"It is not selecting a lifelong partner. You must have a preference in mind. Casting a blank ballot is equal to saying you do not trust the candidates," he said.
"To vote is to exercise your rights and discharge your duty. That is part of our privilege and we should feel honour-bound to do so."
Mr Justice Woo also dismissed claims that the electorate was disillusioned. "I don't follow the logic of such sayings. If you feel discontented, there are even more reasons for you to vote," he said.
- Cheung Kin-fai, chairman of the Rehabilitation Alliance Hong Kong, said only 44 per cent of polling centres were suitable for disabled voters. A spokeswoman for the Registration and Electoral Office said many polling stations had been refurbished for the disabled. She said many charity groups had offered to take disabled people to polling stations by bus.