Sat, Dec 20, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Lawmaker wants phones barred from polling stations

STAFF WRITER

A Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) lawmaker thinks voters should be barred from carrying mobile phones and digital cameras into polling stations during elections.

Legislator Chien Lin Whei-jun (錢林慧君) yesterday proposed amending the President and Vice President Election and Recall Law (總統副總統選舉罷免法) and the Election and Recall Law of Civil Servants (公務人員選舉罷免法) to ban the use of mobile phones and digital cameras in polling stations.

The proposal has gained the support of 40 legislators from different parties and Chien Lin is hoping to get the proposal onto next week's legislative agenda.

Chien Lin said such a ban was needed now that there are digital cameras small enough to fit into a pocket and mobile phones that can take pictures.

"I want to propose amendments to the two laws to prevent high-tech photo equipment from becoming a tool for obstructing voting privacy, or even a tool for people who have sold their votes to show their ballots to the vote-buyers," Chien Lin said.

TSU Legislator Chen Chien-ming (陳建銘) also pointed out yesterday that there were rumors inside both the pan-green and the pan-blue camps that young party members had called for voting to be photographed so that all the parties could monitor voting simultaneously.

"Using mobile phones to monitor voting is against the regulations of the Election and Recall Law of Civil Servants, and those who break the law can be given a two-year sentence or fined NT$200,000," Chen said.

Chen said the Central Election Commission should forbid voters from carrying mobile phones into polling stations because many mobile phones now have digital-camera functions and most people had at least one handset.

"Those who try to bribe voters or influence an election in other ways may ask voters to take their mobile phones into the voting booth, photograph their ballots and give the photos to the bribers to ensure the people voted for the right person," Chen said.

In response, Chiang Ching-sung (江清松), a commission official, said that Article 63 of the Election and Recall Law of Civil Servants and Article 61 of the President and Vice President Election and Recall Law, require voters to turn off their mobile phones upon entering a polling station.

Chiang said the commission would have to discuss the idea of barring mobile phones that have a digital-camera feature.

According to Chiang, if the commission did decide to bar mobile phones, it would also map out the necessary measures to enforce the decision for the March presidential election.

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