Fri, Oct 01, 2010 - Page 1 News List

Government planning to allow absentee voting in 2012

By Loa Iok-sin and Vincent Y. Chao  /  Staff Reporters

The Ministry of the Interior yesterday unveiled a plan to implement absentee voting for all eligible voters in the 2012 presidential election, but did not go as far as to extend the measure to Taiwanese living abroad.

After a meeting with representatives from the Executive Yuan, the Central Election Commission (CEC), the Ministry of Justice and local governments, Deputy Minister of the Interior Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎) told a press conference that a consensus had been reached on implementing absentee voting for the 2012 presidential election.

“According to the plan, all eligible voters will have the right to cast their vote outside the county or city where they are registered, as long as they file an application within a period pre-designated by the CEC,” Chien said. “Approved absentee voters will be able to cast their vote at designated polling stations near their place of residence.”

Chien said although the initial plan had been limited to allowing polling station workers, police or military officers on duty and prisoners to cast absentee ballots, it was decided at subsequent meetings that all eligible voters should be able to cast absentee votes.

“For now, we only plan to implement absentee voting for presidential elections and only allow people to cast absentee ballots domestically, as this is less complicated [than implementing a voting system for Taiwanese outside the country],” Chien said, adding that the new system would require revisions to the President and Vice President Election and Recall Act (總統副總統選舉罷免法).

He said the plan would soon be submitted to the Executive Yuan and was likely to pass a Cabinet review before the end of the year.

In a telephone interview, Central Election Commission Secretary-General Teng Tien-yu (鄧天祐) told the Taipei Times the CEC already had the technical wherewithal to implement absentee voting in 2012.

Commenting on the policy decision, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) said the party would give the measure its full support, provided anti-fraud measures were well designed.

“Of course we fully support absentee voting, as it helps promote public participation in elections,” Wu said. “However, there must not be any loophole during voting or when the ballots are transported.”

Meanwhile, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers said the opposition was unlikely to support the measure.

DPP Legislator Chen Chieh-ju (陳節如) said the government had yet to formulate plans that would ensure that ballots could not be tampered with or that ensured voters would be able to cast their ballot independently.

“Now is not the proper time,” Chen said. “There are still blind spots in the proposal that need to be addressed.”

However, Wu and the DPP legislators agreed on limiting absentee voting to Taiwan-based voters, saying that allowing Taiwanese citizens living abroad to do so would be too controversial.

DPP Legislator Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英) said extending the vote to Taiwanese living outside Taiwan — a measure favored by some KMT lawmakers — would be a dangerous move for Taiwan’s democracy.

“In China, for instance, the media is state-run and mail is routinely intercepted. How could we ensure the safety and accuracy of the ballot under such circumstances?” she asked.

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