HKUPOP goes ahead with the “3.23 Civil Referendum Project” Website: http://popvote.hkBack

February 23, 2012

The Public Opinion Programme (POP) at the University of Hong Kong held a press conference on February 23, 2012 (Thursday) to announce its decision to go ahead with the “Civil Referendum Project” which could be held on March 23, 2012 (Friday), in order to let people express their support towards different candidates of the fourth Chief Executive election, by means of onsite and offsite electronic voting. POP has also decided to run a “3.21 Mock Civil Referendum Project” on March 21, 2012 (Wednesday) in primary and secondary schools, in order to let the underage practice online electronic voting at their schools. During the press conference, Director of POP Robert Chung explained fund raising situation of the project, and the activity schedule, while IT Manager of POP Jazz Ma explained the operation concepts and other technical arrangements.




As an independent academic institution, POP has worked hard to develop a task-based electronic voting system to facilitate the general public and people from different sectors to express their will through civil referendum. To echo with the fourth Chief Executive election to be held on March 25, the “civil referendum” of March 23 has three objective:


1)    to provide a multi-dimensional reference for the public and the election committee
2)   to construct a civil society by promoting civil participation
3)    to demonstrate the electronic voting system


Fund Raising Situation (as of noon time on February 23, 2012)


Number of pledged donors (including 206 anonymous donors, but excluding 1 skeptical case)


Number of actual donors (including 90 anonymous donors)


Amount of donation pledged


Amount of donations initially verified


Average amount per actual donor


Median value of actual donations


Mode value of actual donations



Activity Schedule (preliminary)


February 8

Fund raising begins

February 23

Fixing the scale of the project

March 1

Fixing the extent of civic participation

March 16

Fixing the number and location of polling stations for 3.23

March 21

3.21 Mock Civil Referendum: Onsite e-voting only for primary and secondary schools
Pilot offsite e-voting for the general public: Results would not be released

March 23

3.23 Civil Referendum, results to be announced on the same night

April 23

Financial report to be released


Ballot Design


The electronic ballot for both the “3.23 Civil Referendum” and the “3.21 Mock Civil Referendum” will contain all official candidates of the CE election, plus “abstention”. In paper ballots, “blank” or invalid votes can be regarded as “abstention”, but in electronic voting, non-submission is normally not registered, so an extra option of “abstention” is offered. It would be counted and reported exactly like other options.


Operation Plan for “3.23 Civil Referendum”


Offsite e-polling

Onsite polling

Voting time: 0000 to 2000 on 3.23

Voting time: 0900 to 2100 on 3.23

Website: PopVote (

Number of polling stations and venue: (tbc)

Information for verification: Identity Card Number in full of the voter and a cell phone number which can be used to send SMS

Information for verification: Identity Card



Smartphone App Voting

The voting time and process will be the same as the offsite e-polling but for those using Smartphone App voting, they must download the PopVote application first. Details will be confirmed.


Smartphone App screenshots preview


Diagram 1. Select language

Diagram 2. Fill-in information

Diagram 3. Send SMS

Diagram 4. Cast vote


Arrangement for “3.21 Mock Civil Referendum” in Schools


Voting platform access time: March 21, 2012, between 0900-2100 hr



  1. Submit school information at
  2. Submit voting machine’s IP addresses to HKUPOP

Flow on mock voting day

  1. Setup a venue using the suggested floorplan or your own
  2. Logon to the “School Mock Voting” platform
  3. Students enter full ID card number with the assistance by teachers
  4. Students cast their vote on their own

Suggested floor plan for “3.21 Mock Civil Referendum” in schools



Civic Participation


Since POP’s announcement about the “3.23 Civil Referendum Project”, many students and citizens have come forward to express their wish to provide active support for the project. An “Alliance of 3.23 Civil Referendum Support Groups” was also formed yesterday (February 22, 2012, Wednesday), with the following members initially:

  1. Centre for Social Policy Studies, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (also became a co-organizer of the “3.23 Civil Referendum Project”)
  2. Executive Committee (Designate) of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University Students’ Union
  3. Applied Social Science Departmental Society, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University Students’ Union
  4. Social Affairs Committee of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University Students’ Union


In view of this, POP has decided to encourage Hong Kong people to provide support to the project in the following ways:

  1. Provide free venues for setting up polling stations on March 23, including halls, empty stores, public areas in shopping malls, and so on.
  2. Provide free vehicles for setting up mobile polling stations on March 23.
  3. Organize publicity teams on March 23 to encourage and assist people voting.
  4. (Only for post-secondary students) Volunteer for helping or publicizing the event.
  5. (Only for school teachers and principals) Organize electronic voting in their schools on March 21, while POP provides guidelines and technical support.


If any people would like to support the activity, or has other ideas, they can click on our PopVote website at then “tangible support” and then leave their information. The “Alliance of 3.23 Civil Referendum Support Groups” will follow up with them in due course.


The main difference between civil referendums and opinion polling lies in people’s degree of participation. Civil referendum stresses active and civilized participation, much more than scientific analysis of the results.