The Public Opinion Programme (POP) at the University of Hong Kong today releases on schedule the activity report of the “3.23 Civil Referendum Project”, in order to document and conclude this activity. Members of public and media are welcome to gain access to the Chinese report at the “HKU POP Site” (http://hkupop.pori.hk) and the “PopVote” website (http://popvote.hk). The English version will be available on May 25, 2012.
The “3.23 Civil Referendum Project (PopVote)” was conducted during March 23-24, 2012. The total number of votes collected was 222,990 and the voting result was released at March 25, 2012 midnight. The financial report was also released on April 23, 2012, and excerpts of certain evaluations and recommendations from the activity report are as follows
The initial idea of the project was to mainly use “offsite e-voting” and supplemented with “onsite e-voting”. As for the number of votes, we would regard the project as successful with 50,000 votes and as the highest ideal with 100,000 votes whereas the limit of the e-voting system was 200,000 votes... In future, if POP will host similar “civil referendum” projects again, we will set the benchmark at 200,000 votes, regard 500,000 votes as the highest ideal and 1,000,000 votes as the limit of the system. With economies of scale and existing investment made, the amount of resources input should be doubled.
POP will formulate and publicize a “back up paper ballot system”, just in case. This system most likely will include the following: 1) Paper voting can be done in simple mode when the e-voting system is undergoing severe traffic jam or even in complete paralysis yet can still be used for identity verification. 2) Paper voting will be done according to a more complicated procedure, including sealed ballots, when the e-voting system comes to a complete paralysis.
Since some citizens are still not familiar with e-voting or have no confidence in it, POP may consider providing simple “paper ballot system” for citizens to opt for even when the e-voting system runs very smoothly However, the identity verification process will still be conducted using the electronic system, with the help of staff or have them in charge…
The Civil Referendum System is not a private property. When POP initiated the “3.23 Civil Referendum Project”, the principle of “what is taken from the society will be used on the society” was adopted right at the start. First of all, we let citizens decide whether the project should be carried out by calling for public donations, then, we took the advice of different individuals (including students) to let public members and organizations to handle the promotion and coordination. The success of this event was totally because of “civil initiative, civil participation” and hence the massive response. This experience and this persistence should be the best guidance for the planning of future projects.
The “Alliance of 3.23 Civil Referendum Support Groups” has also decided to publish a book to record and commemorate the “3.23 Civil Referendum Project”, which is anticipated to be published in early July. Besides, POP also plans to upload all related documents as digital archive onto POP site, details to be announced in due course.