Thu, Nov 15, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Ballot battle heats up as CEC sets up procedure

SAVING MONEY The DPP says the 2004 elections, which used separate ballots, cost nearly NT$100 million, a sum that could be less if simultaneous ballots were adopted

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

With the Central Election Commission (CEC) scheduled to finalize tomorrow the procedures for January's legislative election and two referendums, the pan-green and the pan-blue camps yesterday resumed their battle over whether the legislative and referendum ballots should be issued separately.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus called on the commission to adopt the consensus reached among local election commissions in the 18 cities and counties governed by the pan-blue camp, which backed the separate issuance of ballots.

KMT caucus whip Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) told a press conference that following meetings on Oct. 26 and last Friday, the 18 local commissions had reached an agreement "to ensure that the voting procedure on election day is unhindered."

"The decision by the 18 local election commissions represents the opinion of the people in those locales," Tseng said, adding that residents in these districts account for 70.36 percent of the nation's population.

Tseng showed a joint declaration made by the speakers of 25 cities and county councils supporting the local commissions' position.

"To ensure order and impartiality in the elections, we fully support the conclusion reached by the heads of the 18 pan-blue-governed cities and counties that we should have separate legislative and referendum ballots," as was the case in the 2000 election, the statement said.

Two referendums, one sponsored by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on retrieving the KMT's "stolen assets" and another by the KMT on giving the legislature the power to investigate the president, the vice president, their family members and subordinates for corruption, will be held alongside the legislative election on Jan. 12.

To simplify the voting process, some CEC members have proposed a "one-step voting" process whereby the election and referendum ballots would be handed to voters at the entrance to the polling stations and voters would cast the ballots together.

Pan-blue politicians maintain that a "two-step voting" process should be used, whereby voters first cast their legislative election ballots before receiving and casting their referendum ballots.

Both sides believe that the manner in which the ballots are issued will have an impact on the result of the legislative election and the referendums.

Ten DPP legislators said on Tuesday that the CEC should use the same ballot for the referendums and the legislative election.

Tseng, however, threatened to sue the CEC for malfeasance should it accept the DPP legislators' suggestion, adding that their proposal violates the Election and Recall Law of Civil Servants (公務人員選舉罷免法).

Meanwhile, several DPP legislators yesterday said the KMT's continued opposition to the simultaneous issuance of ballots was a means to protect the KMT's "stolen assets."

"I don't understand. We are trying to make things easier, but they insist on making things more complicated," said DPP Legislator Jao Yung-ching (趙永清) during a press conference at the party's legislative caucus office yesterday morning.

Jao, along with legislators Kao Chien-chih (高建智) and Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇), said the KMT's policy was an attempt to derail the referendum and thereby allow it retain its "stolen assets."

Tien said the DPP proposal to issue the ballots simultaneously follows in the steps of the most advanced counties in the world.

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