The first electoral district of Miaoli County will hold a by-election on March 14 to fill the seat vacated by Lee E-tin (李乙廷), whose election was formally invalidated because of vote-buying, the Central Election Commission (CEC) announced on Friday.
The proposal to hold the legislative by-election on the second Saturday in March was unanimously approved at a meeting of CEC commissioners, a CEC statement said.
The CEC schedule said an election gazette will be issued on Jan. 5, and hopefuls could register their candidacy between Jan. 12 and Jan. 16.
Qualified candidates will draw lots on Feb. 18 to determine the order in which their names will appear on the ballots and can present their platforms in officially organized campaign forums from March 4 to March 13.
CEC officials said the Miaoli County Government originally suggested that the by-election be held on March 7, but with six national civil service exams taking place that day, CEC commissioners decided to hold the by-election a week later on March 14.
Lee, of the governing Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), was elected as a first-term lawmaker on Jan. 12 earlier this year but lost the seat on Dec. 10 when the Taiwan High Court’s Taichung branch rejected his appeal against a May 28 Miaoli District Court ruling that had annulled his election on vote-buying charges.
Lee was the first member of the current legislature to lose a seat. The loss is not expected to have much impact on the lawmaking body, where the KMT and its allies hold nearly three-fourths of the seats.
Lee, a former secretary-general of the Miaoli County Farmers’ Association, garnered 64,817 votes in the Jan. 12 election against 46,905 votes for two-term legislator Tu Wen-ching (杜文卿) of the Democratic Progressive Party.
Tu filed a civil suit seeking the invalidation of Lee’s election.
The court verdict said Lee made 16 visits to temples in Yuanli and Jhunan — two of the eight townships in one of Miaoli County’s two electoral districts — between June and October last year.
During that time he made donations and solicited support via his campaign aides for his election bid. Because Lee had not been previously known to make donations to temples and had only done so during the election campaign, the court ruled they were designed to improperly influence voter behavior.
The high court had the final say on the case.
As Lee’s remaining term in office exceeds one year, the CEC must hold a by-election within three months of the court verdict under the existing Public Officials Election and Recall Law (公職人員選罷法).