Sun, May 16, 2004 - Page 2 News List

DPP says voting rules were poorly explained

AP , TAIWAN

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said yesterday that President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) razor-thin victory in the recent disputed election would have been much larger if new voting rules -- which resulted in thousands of invalid ballots -- had been better explained to voters.

The opposition is hoping that the irregularities turned up during the recount will help bolster the case it's filed with the High Court asking for new elections. But the DPP said its attorneys claimed the majority of the more than 300,000 invalid ballots had been intended to be votes for the president.

If the stricter rules hadn't been introduced, Chen would have won the election by 100,000 votes instead of only 30,000, DPP official Liang Wen-chieh (梁文傑) said.

He said the number of invalid votes was so high because officials failed to properly explain legislation, introduced before the election, that limited the number of places on the ballot paper where voters could mark their choice.

The DPP said it was unlikely that the recount would lead to a new election.

"Using the recount through disputes over valid and invalid votes to overturn the election result is not to be expected," the DPP's attorney Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) said.

A lawyer for the opposition, Tsai Yu-ling (蔡玉玲), said the invalid vote figures, provided by the president's party, were wrong.

The recount in over half of Taiwan's 23 administrative areas had been completed yesterday by midday, attorneys said.

The court will make a final ruling on how each of the disputed votes -- which were singled out by lawyers representing the rival candidates -- should be counted.

The opposition said the recount has turned up more than 30,000 disputed ballots, hinting at the possibility of fraud. The DPP, however, said that there were only a few hundred disputed ballots, and that they were the result of sloppiness by election officials.

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