Fri, Mar 26, 2004 - Page 8 News List


Bordering on insanity

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) scored a new low in politics by issuing a poster comparing President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

To my even greater disbelief, the KMT's Taichung City campaign headquarters actually endorsed it. And to think Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強), once a foreign minister, did not say a word to criticize the poster for its poor taste -- that's bordering on insanity.

It's not only an insult to Chen and his administration, but also to freedom-loving Taiwanese, Americans and Iraqis that the KMT would use these tyrannical figures for its political gain. The KMT may be an old and wealthy political party, but it's certainly acting like a child in this case.

Eugene Liu

Atlanta, Georgia

Every ballot has meaning

In the wake of a very close election result, there will be a temptation for both political camps to utilize spoiled ballots to recover a loss or consolidate a win. Neither should be allowed.

There are two kinds of spoiled ballots: unintentional and intentional. How ballots were unintentionally spoiled may be further divided into two types: through incompetence or carelessness.

Incompetently spoiled ballots are a result of not being able to understand or follow voting rules. The rules are not difficult: one, use the stamp provided; two, stay within the box provided. The box within which one places the stamp is many times larger than the stamp, so this task should be easy, even if one's dexterity is poor. One hopes that there were services available to allow those who are physically infirm to make it to a polling station and cast their ballots.

This standard does not appear difficult to meet and was agreed upon by all parties prior to the election. And assuming this country has no more than its fair share of mentally challenged voters, the percentage of spoiled ballots due to incompetence should be very small.

It is possible that the number of carelessly spoiled ballots is larger. These are produced by voters who are able to understand and remember the rules but believe they are not worth their trouble. They believe the rules are mere guidelines which do not necessarily apply to them, or that the voting process in particular is not worthy of their full attention. Should the votes of those with such little regard for the democratic process be counted? Hopefully, these only represent a small minority of spoiled ballots.

There is, however, an important category of intentionally spoiled ballots we should consider: the protest vote.

The voter casts a protest vote to show that he or she does want to participate in the democratic process but does not support any of the main candidates. Often, the protest vote is given to another candidate with almost no chance of winning. But this time, with only two high-profile camps fielding candidates, the only way to cast a protest vote was to cast a spoiled ballot.

Every eligible voter has the right to vote or not and the freedom to spoil their ballot or not. Give every voter credit for having the intelligence and the interest necessary to participate in the democratic process, and do not allow any political party to usurp the voter's right to be heard under the pretext of clarifying an election result.

Lin Yu-tang

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