Sat, Nov 17, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Jan. 12 polls will use one-step voting: CEC

DISTRIBUTION Voters will receive the legislative election and referendum ballots when they enter polling stations, a format one CEC member warned could spark riots

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

After months of dispute, the Central Election Commission (CEC) decided yesterday that ballots for the Jan. 12 legislative elections and referendums will be handed out together to voters at the entrance to polling stations.

The pan-blue and pan-green camps have been arguing for weeks on how ballots for the legislative elections and two referendums -- one proposed by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and one by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) -- should be distributed.

During the 2004 presidential election -- the first time a referendum and a national election were held simultanously -- the ballots were issued separately.

Some CEC members had suggested "one-step voting," meaning that ballots be handed out together.

Pan-blue politicians and commission members recommended by pan-blue political parties, however, have insisted on the "two-step voting" system used in 2004.

"The commission has resolved through a vote that [both] ballots will be handed out to voters at the [polling station] entrance," Central Election Commission Secretary-General Teng Tien-yu (鄧天祐) said after the four-hour meeting ended.

"Nine [of the 13 CEC members] voted for it [one-step voting], while four voted against it," he said.

CEC Chairman Chang Cheng-hsiung (張政雄) said the decision was only valid for the Jan. 12 poll.

"We'll see how it works out and decide whether to adopt the same voting scheme for the presidential election in March," he said.

Voters will receive referendum and election ballots from two separate tables as they walk into polling stations and cast the ballots into seperate ballot boxes, he said.

"Ballots cast in the wrong boxes will also be valid," he said.

Pan-blue-camp-recommended commission members slammed the decision.

"You've lit the fire, and it will keep burning until Jan. 12," said Liu Kuang-hua (劉光華), who was recommended by the KMT. "Beware that riots may break out after the election."

"The spirit of the CEC is dead. It's no longer objective and neutral as it should be and has become a hostage of the Cabinet," said Chao Shu-chien (趙叔鍵), who was recommended by the People First Party.

"Sixteen local election commissions [out of 25] said they supported the two-step voting ? apparently the CEC is not listening to the voice of people," Chao said.

Chao said those who voted for the one-step plan did so "against their conscience."

Eighteen pan-blue local government heads have promised to use the two-step system regardless of the CEC's decision.

When asked what the commission would do if the 18 counties and cities insisted on following their own procedure, Chang said he would "not answer any hypothetical questions," but would "have further talks with heads of counties and cities."

Another topic of debate during yesterday's meeting was whether the two referendum questions should be printed on one ballot.

The DPP's "stolen assets recovery" referendum seeks to force the KMT to return assets it acquired illegally during its decades of authoritarian rule. The KMT's "anti-corruption" referendum aims to give the legislature the power to investigate allegations of corruption against the president and his or her subordinates.

DPP-recommended committee member Cheng Sheng-chu (鄭勝助) suggested the two referendums be printed on the same ballot, a motion that triggered heated exchanges.

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