DC poll interim report submitted

January 26, 2024

The Electoral Affairs Commission today submitted to the Chief Executive an interim report on the investigation into the failure of the Electronic Poll Register (EPR) system of the District Council Ordinary Election.


The EPR system failed in the evening on polling day and polling stations were unable to use it for issuing ballot papers. An investigation group that was set up to look into the incident released the probe's findings today.


The group said that at the time of the incident, the utilisation of the central processing unit (CPU) of the EPR system's server had almost reached full capacity. Simulations revealed design problems with two of the system's programmes, causing the computation time to increase as polling progressed.


The CPU was overloaded 11 hours after polling started. In addition, owing to another design issue, sequential requests queued up in the database and unnecessarily tied up a substantial amount of resources in the servers.


Since these resources were shared with other programmes, the issues caused difficulties for the system in executing the ballot paper issuing process.


The investigation group noted that the design problems of the two programmes that led to the incident involved design changes made by the Registration & Electoral Office's information technology team to meet the operational needs of the district council election.


Investigations indicated no record of any external device attempting to access the EPR system, ruling out an external attack. A police probe also found that there was no evidence to suggest any malicious attempt to sabotage the system.


The Electoral Affairs Commission, which set up the group to conduct the investigation, highlighted another issue related to the election, namely an error in the total voter turnout and voter turnout rate announced after the election.


According to a post-election review conducted by the commission, the actual voter turnout should have been 1,195,331, not the 1,193,193 initially announced - a gap of 2,138 voters.


The commission said the error was mainly due to the failure of the EPR system on polling day, which activated the fallback mode for issuing ballot papers until the close of polling at midnight.


Following the submission of the mid-term report, the investigation group will follow up on the findings and analyses then submit a comprehensive report to the Chief Executive within three months after the election.


The commission said the upcoming report will incorporate detailed findings on the incident and the recommended improvement measures.

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