Pro-Beijing newspaper warns of looming regulation on casting blank votes

Published (HKT): 2021.04.06 18:59

A Hong Kong newspaper controlled by the Chinese Communist Party has warned that the government could amend laws to regulate casting blank votes, adding that recent remarks from a top official are a “preview” to “improving the system.”

Ta Kung Pao’s Tuesday editorial said that no law could regulate the will of people in voting, but inciting voters to cast null votes is “obviously rigging and undermining elections.” Foreign entities could also make use of the blank votes to attack the Hong Kong government and the central authorities in Beijing, violating multiple local laws, the pro-Beijing newspaper warned.

The editorial was a response to recent comments made by Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng, who appealed openly to voters not to cast protest votes to block elections. The Hong Kong government would also be looking into whether existing regulations are enough to prevent elections from being manipulated and sabotaged, she said.

The Ta Kung Pao article also drew a link between calls to cast blank votes and the efforts of Benny Tai, the now-detained, former legal scholar from the University of Hong Kong, in allegedly rigging local elections, including holding the primary election in the pro-democracy camp.

The government has no way to find out those who cast a blank vote as the ballots are all anonymous, according to Chinese University of Hong Kong political science professor Ma Ngok.

Ma said it would be difficult for blank votes to affect the outcome of elections, except for the Chief Executive election that had a turnout threshold. He also questioned why explaining casting blank votes could violate laws.

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