Casting blank votes an expression of opinion, legal scholar says

Published (HKT): 2021.04.05 19:11
Pro-Beijing lawmaker Paul Tse

The casting of blank or spoiled ballots is an expression of opinion by voters, and the Hong Kong government should focus on working out why people feel the need for the option rather than trying to outlaw it, said a former dean of Hong Kong University’s law school.

Johannes Chan was responding to comments by Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng, who said that voters should not cast null votes to block elections. The government would also be looking into whether existing regulations are enough to prevent elections from being manipulated and sabotaged.

Any plan to outlaw calls to cast blank votes risked creating confusion, Chan said, adding that it may be driven by worries over low turnout rates or record high blank votes because new changes to the electoral system will limit the choice of candidates to those approved by Beijing.

Democratic Party Chairman Lo Kin-hei criticized the proposal to regulate protest votes as nonsensical. Lo asked if supporting the government is the only option left to Hongkongers.

Pro-Beijing lawmaker Paul Tse also voiced concerns over such a plan, saying that voting is not mandatory in Hong Kong. Voters have the right to choose, he said, adding that he believed there was no need for regulation at this stage, except in special scenarios, such as where foreign interference is involved.

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