Wed, Mar 11, 2015 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTER ]

Positive about negative vote

Chiou Tian-juh (邱天助) said in his opinion piece (“Positive effect of ‘negative voting,’” March 9, page 8) that 14 states allow negative votes.

I am compelled to clarify that what is available in these 14 states is the “none of the above” (NOTA) option. That is very different from what is being proposed, which Chiou understands and apparently supports — and the positive effects of which he wrote eloquently about.

A few more points of clarification are needed in response to some criticism mentioned in Chinese-language newspapers.

One assertion is that the proposal was advanced to promote Shih Ming-te (施明德) or some person with political ambition to benefit the third party candidate.

Nothing is further from the truth. We have been promoting this idea for more than a year on the Internet, mainly through Facebook.

The Negative Vote Association formed in March last year and sent an application with a list of more than 30 founders to the Ministry of the Interior (not including Shih) in November last year.

We knew we needed a prominent figure to serve as our chairman to gain the attention of mainstream media.

In spite of our best efforts, all such figures we approached declined.

Only Shih was willing, although fully aware that he would draw fire from all vested interests.

Shih is willing to become a target of attack because he believes our proposal will improve all democracies, improve harmony in Taiwan and contribute to world peace by weeding out extremists.

As expected, all Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators interviewed did not support the idea. Some responded more viciously than others to draw attention to themselves.

In the nine-in-one elections in November last year, 38 percent of candidates for the office of village warden — that is, 2,970 people — ran unopposed.

I am sure that many of these people are so loved by their neighbors that they are unopposed (one of our founders is such a person).

Yet, it is also public knowledge that some of these people are local gang leaders who can intimidate potential opposition into not running. Negative voting would solve this problem.

With negative voting, the probability exists (though very low) that no candidate receives any net positive votes. In this case, another election should be held and those initially rejected should be barred from participating.

The natural question in that scenario is: “Is a second election not very costly to society?”

To which our response is: “Is electing the wrong person not even more costly to society?”

In a two-candidate scenario, under the current system, the winner often arrogantly proclaims: “I have [overwhelming] popular support.”

The truth is more likely that he does not. In this scenario, many people do not vote because they dislike both candidates. Some vote for the winner as the “lesser of two evils.”

If negative voting is adopted, more people would participate in voting and the result would more accurately reflect people’s views.

The outcome of who wins could also be the opposite of the outcome when only positive votes are allowed.

For example, under the current system, if out of 67 votes, candidate A receives 34 and candidate B receives 33, candidate A would win with 50.7 percent majority support.

If negative voting is an option and 33 more people choose to vote, and candidate A receives 34 positive votes and 22 negative votes, the candidate’s net positive votes number 11.

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