Thu, Nov 29, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Two-step voting against the law: Chang

`BARBARIC' BLUES The president continued to slam the opposition on its attempts to defy the CEC and distribute legislative ballots separately from the referendum ballots

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) said yesterday that the two-step voting format that pan-blue cities and counties propose using for the Jan. 12 legislative elections is illegal under existing laws.

In accordance with the Election and Recall Law of Civil Servants (公職人員選舉罷免法) and the Referendum Law (公民投票法), the setting and management of polling stations for the legislative election nationwide is within the jurisdiction of the Central Election Commission (CEC), the premier told a news conference.

Local election commissions are obliged to take orders from the CEC, he said, adding that he, in his capacity as the nation's top administrative official, had told the electoral commissions in the 18 pan-blue cities and counties that they have no right to decide on the use of a "two step" ballot distribution and voting format.

He said the government would make the necessary preparations for voters to follow the one-step voting procedure and cast their election and referendum ballots together.

The CEC decided to adopt a one-step voting procedure, whereby voters would receive two ballots for the legislative elections and two referendum ballots when they enter the polling station and then cast them into four different boxes.

Pan-blue local government chiefs, however, have insisted that their administrations would use a two-step voting system, under which voters first cast their legislative election ballots before they are given their referendum ballots.

CEC Chairman Chang Cheng-hsiung (張政雄), when approached by reporters after the weekly Cabinet meeting yesterday, said the CEC would meet with the chairmen of the 25 local election commissions next week to resolve the dispute.

"We believe we can reach an agreement and that the 18 pan-blue local government heads will not insist on a two-step process," he said.

Meanwhile, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) continued lambasting the opposition yesterday for its attempts to defy the CEC and distribute legislative ballots separately from the two referendum ballots in January, calling them "barbaric" and vowing to enforce the law.

Chen said the pan-blue camp and 18 pan-blue local government chiefs who had threatened to arrest voters who collect the ballots together were acting as if Taiwan were a police state.

"They are anti-democracy, anti-referendum and anti-Taiwan," Chen said while addressing an event held outside Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) headquarters yesterday afternoon. "Their only purpose is to protect their improperly acquired party assets. Their selfishness and disrespect for the law is intolerable."

Saying the two-step voting process violated the right of voters to a referendum, Chen vowed to support the CEC's one-step voting system and protect voters' rights.

"I believe justice is on our side," the president said. "No matter how uncivilized those local heads are, they are bound to bow before public opinion."

Two-step voting was adopted during the last presidential election in 2004, which was held in tandem with the "peace referendum," but Chen said his administration would never allow voter rights to be violated again next year.

Chen argued that these rights would be violated in the two-step process because if voters wanted to vote in the referendum they would be forced to reveal this when they picked up their ballots.

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