Wed, May 19, 2004 - Page 2 News List

District courts wrap up recount

LEGAL PROCESS Panchiao was the last to complete the job because of the massive number of voters in the constituency. Several districts reported common errors

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The election recount was completed yesterday, two days earlier than scheduled, when the Panchiao District Court finished its review of the presidential election ballots.

The Panchiao court was the last of the 20 district courts to finish the recount, due to the huge number of ballots it had to review. Panchiao had the greatest number of voters in a single constituency.

The Penghu District Court also finished a review of voters' name lists yesterday that had been requested by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-People First Party (PFP) alliance.

"The Taiwan High Court will allow the alliance's legal representatives to apply to review and check certain voters' name lists in those constituencies where human errors were discovered during the recount," said Hsu Chang-jin (徐昌錦), a spokesman for the Taiwan High Court.

"Some of these reviews have been carried out since Monday," Hsu said.

As for the recount process itself, several common errors were found. Recount workers in Penghu discovered that 150 voters' personal chops, which are regarded as signatures, did not match the printed names on the list of registered voters.

In Keelung, 39 voters' chops did not match the printed names on the name list. In addition, 217 voters received ballots by inking a fingerprint instead of their name chop. However, no Central Election Commission (CEC) employee signature countersigned the fingerprints, which is considered an error.

In Ilan, the personal chops of 15 voters did not match the printed names on the list of voters and 21 voters left fingerprints when picking up their ballots without a commission worker signing off on the fingerprint.

In Taoyuan, 50 voters provided fingerprints instead of chops, again without a commission countersignature.

Kuo Lin-yung (郭林勇), a lawyer for the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP), said such mistakes could not be called "human errors."

"Obtaining a ballot by leaving a fingerprint is legal and totally reasonable," Kuo said. "It cannot be considered cheating."

While the DPP believes that there is no hope that the alliance will be able to overturn the election results, a senior KMT official appeared confident yesterday of doing just that.

KMT Secretary-General Lin Fong-cheng (林豐正) told reporters he was very confident that the alliance would win its lawsuits seeking to suspend President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu's (呂秀蓮) re-election and have the election declared a fraud.

"The election is about cheating," Lin said. "The DPP said earlier that it might take a year to accomplish the recount. However, it took less than 10 days."

"With all the evidence of cheating that we discovered during the recount, I am quite confident that we are going to win the suits and overturn the [election] result," Lin added.

Lin said that the alliance has faith in the judicial system because justice is the last defense. He also said the alliance would respect whatever the judges decide.

The next step in the recount process is a hearing for the two sides to debate how to recognize those ballots deemed controversial. The hearing will be held sometime next week, but a date has not yet been set.

The review of voter name lists is scheduled to be completed before June 18.

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