Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) yesterday unveiled a proposal to establish a system of absentee voting for elections and referendums.
“It’s much to the surprise of the international community that Taiwanese voters cannot vote by means of absentee ballots, given Taiwan’s mature experience in organizing elections,” Ting said at a press conference held at the Legislative Yuan.
There are estimated to be 2.5 million voters who do not live at their registered residences, about 9.2 percent of the nation’s population, or 7.2 percent of its electorate, he said.
Ting’s proposal encompasses five types of absentee voting — people could vote by mail or online, in person in early voting or request to vote where they work or study on voting day, while dedicated polling stations would be open on polling day for certain people, such as prisoners, elderly voters or people with disabilities.
Although they were all common types of absentee voting, Ting said that his proposal left decisions on when to make each type of absentee voting available to the discretion of the Central Election Commission.
Ting said his proposal addressed the concern of the opposition that Taiwanese living in China might not be able to vote according to their own will.
Ting’s proposal stipulated that, in presidential and vice presidential elections, postal voting would be confined to voters who receive vote-by-mail ballots and who mail their stamped ballots within the “Free Area of the Republic of China [ROC].”
In line with Additional Article 2 of the ROC Constitution, citizens of the free area of the ROC residing abroad should return to the ROC to vote, Ting said.
“There are about 80 or 90 countries in the world that have adopted absentee voting systems. In Switzerland, most people do not vote in person in polling stations, but by absentee voting. There is no fraud in absentee voting that can’t be prevented. It depends on how much resolve the government has to make it happen,” Ting said.
The introduction of absentee voting would help increase voter turnout and enhance government legitimacy, Ting said, adding that he would seek support from opposition lawmakers to facilitate the passage of the draft.