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Hong Kong District Council election: Citizens abroad fly back to cast ballot in ‘referendum’ race

Around 2.4 million people, or 60.36 per cent of eligible voters, had taken part in the election as of 6:30pm. The figure is much higher than 33.96 per cent turnout rate seen at the same time during the 2015 race.

Andy, originally from Hong Kong, said that he flew back from California to vote.

“The whole world sees this election as a referendum,” he told HKFP.

He said he campaigned for a candidate in the last election four years ago and understood that winning a District Council seat can unlock a lot of resources for the victor.

“I was in the US during the campaign period and I cannot do much. Voting is what I can do,” he added.

The District Council election is the only fully democratic city-wide election in the city. Long queues have been observed at multiple polling stations, with security tight following almost six months of protest and unrest.

It is being seen as a pseudo-referendum between the pro-democracy camp and the pro-Beijing camp, with more than four million people eligible to cast votes.

The city’s recent political crisis was initially sparked by a now-withdrawn extradition bill. The movement has since demanded full democracy and an independent investigation into police behaviour.

Mr Cheung, another voter, flew back from Washington DC to vote in the Islands District.

He said he decided to fly back in October having followed the protest movement since the beginning.

“Everything that happened since June made me think that, as a Hongkonger, we have a responsibility to fight against tyranny by doing something we can,” he told HKFP.

“We have to kick out the pro-establishment camp who betrayed Hong Kong,” he added.

Meanwhile, Kak – a doctoral student at the University of Maryland – flew back from the states to vote and to help canvass votes for two Democratic Party candidates he supported in the past few days.

He said he decided to buy a ticket back to Hong Kong last month: “My original district councillor lost her seat by only 40 votes [in 2015] so I decided that it’s worthwhile to buy a ticket to vote,” he told HKFP.

Polls are set to close at 10.30pm.

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