I tried to vote in today's district council elections but was unable to because apparently I registered too late.
The cutoff for this year was 2nd June and I just got my "you are registered" confirmation from the Registration and Electoral Office (REO) earlier this week.
I actually put a significant amount of effort into voting this year and am confused by the government's stated desire to get people to vote and the confusing, high friction nature of the registration process.
There were signs everywhere suggesting we register to vote online, but online registration seemed predicated on having a paid digital certificate from the Hong Kong post e-cert certificate authority...the one built into the government's "iAM Smart" digitals services app would not work.
I eventually gave up trying to figure out how to register online and instead registered to vote by mail using the paper form.
I had a lot of questions along the way. The REO's "Voter Registration FAQ" included all of the questions that I had, but most unhelpfully did not actually include clear answers to any of these questions. Below is my attempt to clarify the answers in case anyone else finds this information useful.
Do you have to register again?
The answer to Q8 is not "You are not required to register again," but "Yes, you have to register again if you moved and we decided we couldn't reach you because we canceled your registration." At the very least you should check your registration status each year to see if you need to re-register.
Can you vote immediately after registering and are there any deadlines?
No, you cannot vote immediately after registering to vote. The deadline for registering to vote or updating your address was the 2nd June 2023 and you cannot vote unless you registered by that date. If you register after that date, you can vote in elections held sometime next year after a new list of voters is published.
I'm not the only person that was confused by this because when I went to try to vote the poll officer was confused at why I had a confirmation from REO that I'd successfully registered to vote but wasn't showing up in their system. She had to call someone at the REO to understand the situation.
All was not lost!
Despite being unable to vote, the poll staff kindly gave me a "Thank you for voting" greeting card.