No by-election will be held: EAC

January 21, 2020

The Electoral Affairs Commission today announced that it will not hold a Legislative Council by-election to fill two vacancies in the current term of the Legislative Council due to practical circumstances.


The commission said by-election preparations to fill the vacancies for the Hong Kong Island and New Territories East geographical constituencies is expected to take more than six months.


According to the Legislative Council Ordinance, a by-election to fill a vacancy occurring in the LegCo membership cannot be held within the four months preceding the end of that council’s current term of office.


As such, the commission will not be able to arrange such an election, arising from the determination of election petitions related to the 2018 LegCo by-election held in March 2018.


Section 36(1)(a) of the Legislative Council Ordinance stipulates that the commission must arrange for a by-election to be held on the making of a declaration as to the existence of a Legco membership vacancy.


However, the same ordinance stipulates that the deadline for holding a LegCo by-election is four months preceding the end of LegCo's current term of office, i.e. before May 31, 2020.


The commission explained that the 2019 District Council Ordinary Election was completed under very difficult situations and unprecedented challenges.


Based on that experience and after reviewing practical circumstances, the commission estimated that it will take more than six months to arrange a by-election.


The commission stressed that it is not possible to hold the by-election for the two geographical constituencies before the statutory deadline.


It further stated that the 2020 LegCo General Election, to be held in the third quarter of this year, involves more than 4.1 million registered electors and planning would take an enormous amount of manpower and resources.


With more than 1.7 million registered electors in Hong Kong Island and New Territories East geographical constituencies, preparations for the by-election would overlap with the 2020 LegCo General Election.


The commission noted that current manpower of the Registration & Electoral Office (REO) is not adequate to prepare for two major elections simultaneously.


Apart from manpower, other factors such as availability of venues for polling and counting stations and procurement of electoral materials should be taken into account, the commission said.


Under the current social situation, the REO made it clear that it needs more time and resources to arrange venues and prepare for contingencies.


Due to various practical factors, the REO is of the view that such an election cannot be arranged before the required deadline.


The commission agreed with the REO and has decided not to hold a LegCo by-election to fill the two vacancies.

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