A mock vote that aimed to give ordinary Hong Kong citizens a voice in today’s chief executive poll drew 223,000 votes despite an earlier cyber attack that hit the ambitious project. The Chinese territory’s top political job will be decided by a 1,200 person election committee Sunday, but that hasn’t stopped many of the city’s seven million residents taking part in the University of Hong Kong’s civil referendum project. Beijing has promised the city universal suffrage by 2017. Over half (54%) posted a blank vote, meaning they wanted neither Hong Kong’s former no. 2, Henry Tang, nor its former cabinet head, Leung Chun-ying, to win. Mr. Leung won 18% of the vote, followed by Mr. Tang at 16% and Albert Ho, who chairs the city’s Democracy Party, at 11%.
Thousands of users had logged online Friday morning or used the smart phone apps created by Dr. Robert Chung’s group at the University of Hong Kong to cast their vote, but pages didn’t load properly. Dr. Chung said an early-morning cyber intrusion appeared to disable their servers, and that the site had also been experiencing abnormally high hit rates that had overloaded their system, up to a million requests a second. “I think there could be no other explanation than a cyber attack,” he said. “We don’t quite understand the motive,” he added.
… Voting was extended past the original Friday evening deadline, and paper ballots were also being used as a contingency measure. In an effort to prevent ballot-stuffing, each would-be voter was first required to present their Hong Kong ID card, the number of which on-site volunteers were recording by hand and on laptops. One on-site volunteer, when asked whether he was concerned the cyber attack might have made it harder to guard against ballot-stuffing, nodded. “It is so hard to guarantee,” said Alvin Yeung, a Polytechnic University student who signed up to volunteer after seeing an outpouring of Facebook postings urging people to support the referendum, “but we try.”