An SCMP report describes Beijing officials’ extraordinary efforts to micromanage the patriots-only December Legislative Council quasi-election so it doesn’t look too North Korean.
Obviously, with a vetting mechanism in place, they essentially choose who appears on each ballot. They are making sure a ‘centrist’ (like a Ronnie Tong sidekick) runs in each geographic constituency alongside the usual DAB/FTU zombie-loyalists and the tycoon shoe-shiners. And – is this sad or what? – they are ordering functional constituency candidates accustomed to winning unopposed to find suckers to pose as rivals.
Lawmaker-turned-exile Ted Hui proposes that pro-democracy voters cast blank ballots as a way of protest (summary here, lengthy FB post in Chinese here). His ambitious target is for blank ballots to outnumber the filled ones. The logic is that such a glaring number of blank ballots would be embarrassing to the regime – which of course it would.
However, it would be easier and probably at least as effective if large numbers of voters choose simply to boycott the whole event. The headline figure would then be the drop in turnout from 71% in the 2019 district council polls to (say) 30% or 35%. Of course, the CCP could falsify the results in any case – but an exaggerated turnout would be easier to spot when there were no lines outside polling stations.
The ICAC – supposedly an anti-corruption agency – swiftly responds to Hui’s idea by warning against ‘inciting’ others not to vote or to cast blank or spoiled ballots, which they claim would be ‘manipulating and sabotaging the election’. A widespread boycott seems to be the protest method the authorities fear most – probably because it relies simply on voters’ gut instinct and natural disinterest/laziness rather than any proactive organizing or complex rationale. A turnout of below 30% would look seriously horrible.