Hong Kongers vote in election viewed as democracy referendum

Hong Kongers went to the polls Sunday in a closely watched legislative race viewed as a referendum on democracy. The race features eight candidates, but pre-election polls showed it was largely between two well-known female former officials - Anson Chan and Regina Ip. According to a poll late Friday, the gap between the two main candidates had narrowed to its smallest margin, with Chan leading Ip by just 8.6 points. Chan, Hong Kong's former No. 2 official, has been endorsed by the pro-democracy opposition, while former security chief Ip is the pro-Beijing camp's preferred candidate. 67 years old, has been dubbed "Hong Kong's conscience" for championing civil liberties. Still, the balloting is seen as an important gauge of the public's desire for democratic reforms. Hong Kong's leader is chosen by an 800-member committee loyal to Beijing and only half of its 60 legislators are elected, with the rest picked by interest groups. The political opposition wants direct elections for all political offices soon, while the pro-China camp prefers a gradual approach.