Voters in quarantine able to cast their ballot on election day

The Electoral Affairs Commission for the Legislative Assembly Election meets the press.

Any voters registered for the Legislative Assembly Election that arrive in Macao on or before 11.59pm on 11 September, and are required to undergo quarantine in a local hotel, will be able to cast their ballot at a designated time slot on election day, at the hotel concerned.

To exercise their right to vote on 12 September, such people must submit in advance an application to change polling station location relative to the one assigned to them previously, said today the Chairman of the Electoral Affairs Commission for the Legislative Assembly Election, Mr Tong Hio Fong.

In a press briefing, Mr Tong stated that any Macao ID holders undergoing quarantine, that either declined to, or failed to, apply for a change of polling venue, would not be allowed to cast their vote at the hotel at which they were completing their medical observation. Polling facilities would be set up either at the hotel lobby or other places deemed appropriate.

Application forms relating to a request for a change of polling station had been provided to returning voters, either at boundary checkpoints, or via the hotels they were staying for medical observation, Mr Tong added.

Mr Tong also gave detail about polling arrangements at quarantine venues. An initial plan was to set up an executive committee, composing members from the Health Bureau and the Municipal Affairs Bureau, to coordinate matters. Voters at quarantine venues would be required to wear disposable gloves when marking their ballot, as well as being required to wear a protective face mask during the entire polling procedure.

Mr Tong additionally issued a reminder to all other voters that they should make their health declaration via the Macao Health Code system, well in advance of arriving at their polling station on election day. This would help speed the flow of people entering each polling station, he said.

Today, the Electoral Affairs Commission 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 sides already had reached a basic consensus on the matter, Mr Tong said.

A valid ballot should feature a single “check” mark – applied by the voter using the official chop provided at polling stations. Such mark should be inside one of the blue-coloured boxes, marked between the voter’s chosen candidate and the candidate list’s respective number, Mr Tong said.

A ballot would be rendered invalid if either: the ballot paper had been torn; it had been defaced; if a mark had been made and then erased; or if anything had been written on it, he added.

In other developments, the Electoral Affairs Commission had met with representatives of, respectively, the Commission Against Corruption, the Public Security Police Force, and of the Judiciary Police, in order to discuss arrangements for election day.

Mr Tong told reporters that so far four complaints had been received relating to the election. One concerned distribution of campaigning materials, and the complaint had been forwarded to the Commission Against Corruption for follow up. Another complaint concerned paid online advertising, and had been passed to the Judiciary Police for further investigation. Two further complaints received this morning about alleged violation of the rule regarding the affixing of promotional materials. The Electoral Affairs Commission was still assessing the latter two cases.

Candidate teams should avoid giving benefits through promotional materials, including food. The Electoral Affairs Commission had informed trustees of each candidate team of a requirement for them to declare – to the Electoral Affairs Commission before the end of today – any intention to hand out promotional materials along with gifts during the official campaigning period that runs until 11.59pm on 10 September. They should detail the list of promotional materials to be handed out, and the quantity the candidate team intended to share with each member of the public. Each team should also provide pictures of each item of promotional material, and the respective unit price of such promotional material.

At the time of today’s press briefing, the Electoral Affairs Commission had received declarations from a total of nine candidate teams.

The Legislative Assembly Election Law set no specific rules on the value of promotional materials distributed by candidate teams. Nonetheless, every candidate team should include the spending from such materials in the ledgers required to detail election expenditure. The overall spending must not exceed the amount set by the relevant Executive Order, otherwise the candidate team would be liable to face penalties.

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