Tue, Oct 07, 2008 - Page 3 News List

MOI working on limited absentee voting proposal

By Loa Iok-Sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Deputy Minister of the Interior Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎) said the ministry plans to push for absentee voting next year to better protect the right to vote.

“We are working on amendments to electoral laws to allow absentee voting so that the right to vote of those who cannot make it back to their home electoral districts would not be compromised,” Chien said in response to a question from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) about the ministry’s plans during a meeting of the Internal Administration Committee.

Chien said the ministry would probably finish its draft proposal and submit it to Cabinet and the legislative next year.

Because it might be a complicated system to implement, Chien said that initially absentee voting would only be used for presidential and legislative polls, and only military personnel, police officers, election officials and disabled people would be eligible.

“More than 20 advanced democratic countries have adopted an absentee voting system,” Chien said. “As Taiwan is becoming a more mature democracy, I think it’s about time for us to adopt the system.”

Wu asked the MOI to push forward the proposal.

KMT Legislator Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) also praised the move.

“Fifteen percent of our citizens do not live at their registered home address — they may be working away from home, studying or doing business abroad — and the government should work to protect their right to vote,” Ting said.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers have reservations about the proposal because of the “China factor.”

“There are tens of thousands of our citizens living in China. I would be very concerned if they could really express their opinion freely through absentee voting,” and it would be of concern to think that the Chinese government might be able to influence Taiwan’s elections by telling Taiwanese living in China whom to vote for, DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) said.

Meanwhile, nearly 90 percent of respondents to a Central Election Commission (CEC) survey said that they preferred elections to be held on Saturdays, the commission said in a press release yesterday.

DDP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) has suggested a change because many blue-collar workers still work on Saturdays and may not be able to vote.

The commission received 1,124 valid samples to its survey in July and found that 87.2 percent of respondents prefer elections be held on Saturdays, with only 7.9 percent saying it would be “inconvenient.”

While 57.4 percent of respondents supported moving elections to Sundays, 30.6 percent were opposed.

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