Thu, Apr 29, 2004 - Page 1 News List

High Court backs DPP on two key recount issues

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan High Court judges yesterday accepted arguments by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawyers in two disagreements with attorneys for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-People First Party (PFP) alliance.

The disagreements were over whether the Central Election Commission's (CEC) "Graphic Six" should be used to identify an invalid ballot and whether voters' name lists should be duplicated and distributed to every district court where a recount will take place.

"Graphic Six" was the name given to an example of an invalid ballot made public by the commission before the March 20 election. A "Graphic Six" ballot has a stamp on the stamp area of a specific candidate and another one on the same candidate's name or picture. Before the Presidential Election and Recall Law (總統副總統選舉罷免法) was amended last September, such a ballot would have been regarded as valid.

Yesterday's proceedings began with alliance attorney Hanson Chiang (姜志俊) presenting the KMT-PFP's argument.

"Article 60-1-3 of the Presidential Election and Recall Law clearly states that an invalid ballot will be recognized when `the vote is not able to be distinguished from the ballot,'" Chiang said. "However, a `Graphic Six' ballot is able to be distinguished, is it not? Therefore, we request it be labeled `a controversial ballot' instead of an `invalid ballot.'"

The DPP and the pan-blue camp had previously agreed that during the recount a "controversial ballot" would be presented to judges for a final determination.

Chiang's argument was immediately rebutted by DPP attorney Lo Bing-cheng (羅秉成). Lo said the CEC's rules on invalid ballots were made and approved by both parties' candidates before the election.

"To avoid invalid ballots, the commission's workers posted announcements at each polling station to remind voters how to make their votes count. It does not make sense to make new rules now that we have to recount the ballots," Lo said.

As for the pan-blue camp's request that copies of the name list of voters be made and distributed, its lawyers cited Article 242 of the Code of Civil Procedure (民事訴訟法) as justification for a copy or an abridged copy to be handed out.

"It will be a full, nationwide recount. If we can do this [copy the name list], it will definitely speed up the recount process and make everybody's job easier," blue-camp lawyer Lin Mei-ching (林玫卿) said. "Whether the total number of the ballots matches the total number of voters will be clear after we match them up."

The DPP's legal team insisted that the voter list for a constituency should only be duplicated and given to the pan-blue camp's legal representatives if a dispute occurs in that constituency during the recount process. They said maintaining voters' rights to privacy were paramount.

"The addresses and identification-card numbers of voters are on the lists. It really isn't a smart move to distribute that information to everybody who will be working on the recount because nobody can guarantee that such information will not be leaked," said Joseph Lin (林永頌), one of the DPP's lawyers.

The two sides have agreed that the recount will be held on May 10 and should be completed within 10 days.

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