Thu, Jul 31, 2014 - Page 8 News List

Regulations on polling supervisors need change

By Huang Shih-cheng 黃石城

Article 59 of the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act (公職人員選舉罷免法) states: “A supervisor in each polling station may be recommended by the candidates recommended by the political parties of which the obtained vote rate has totaled not less than 5 percent in the latest national integrated election.”

Evidently, political parties have engineered it so they can influence another aspect of the electoral process and how official agencies conduct elections.

Polling station supervisors can uphold the interests and confidence of the candidates, and each candidate — for a deposit of a specific amount — has the right to recommend a supervisor to represent them. Candidates who are not affiliated with any party, on the other hand, are left to their own devices and are often left fending off pervasive affronts by major parties.

It is difficult to see fairness or justice in only allowing political parties to recommend polling station supervisors, especially since most political parties tend to put their own interests before the nation’s or the public’s.

Therefore, it is clear that the political parties conspired to get some control over elections when they drafted Article 59 of the act, a process dominated by whichever party is in office. This is to be condemned in the strongest terms.

The electoral system ought to be built upon justice, fairness, independence and neutrality, as well as non-alignment with political parties; not on the whims of those parties. If major parties have a monopoly on the selection of polling station supervisors, if they can seek to benefit from the posts and interfere in this aspect of the voting process, then the public should harbor grave doubts about the integrity of the electoral system, especially given the sensitive nature of the polling station supervisor role.

This is collusion between the main parties to snuff out their smaller rivals, stifle emerging parties and squeeze out non-affiliated candidates.

The current political scene is in dire straits. The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has proved it is ignorant, shameless, incompetent and utterly untrustworthy, as well as having a popularity rating of only 9 percent. The opposition has shown itself entirely unable to check corruption in the ruling party. How these parties can be trusted to have anything to do with how elections are conducted is beyond belief.

Article 55 of the Presidential and Vice Presidential Election and Recall Act (總統副總統選舉罷免法) gives all candidates the right to recommend polling station supervisors, while Article 8 of the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act stipulates that “there shall be nonpolitical-party persons in an election commission, and the number of those who are in a same political party shall be not more than 2/5 of the total commissioners in the Central Election Commission, or 1/2 of the total commissioners in a municipal or county (city) election commission.”

This gives certain guarantees to non-party affiliated individuals, and acknowledges the importance of having non-party affiliations for the electoral process to be fair and just.

Articles 59 and 55 of the respective acts allow candidates to recommend polling station supervisors, but the former contradicts the spirit of the stipulation that “there shall be nonpolitical-party persons” in an election commission. Legislators should amend this irregularity promptly. Polling station supervisors must be recommended by each candidate, and the role of non-party affiliated candidates should be valued to establish fair and credible elections if the change is to have a positive impact on the development of democratic elections.

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