The Central Election Commission (CEC) will decide by June whether to combine the next presidential and legislative elections, CEC Chairwoman Chang Po-ya (張博雅) said.
The next presidential poll is scheduled to take place in March next year and the next legislative elections are likely to be held in December this year or January next year, if the existing rules are followed.
The idea of combining the two elections has been discussed for a long time. Supporters say it would save costs, while skeptics question the potentially long wait a president-elect would have before being formally inaugurated in May.
Responding to questions on the issue from Chinese -Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Yang -Chiung-ying (楊瓊瓔), Chang said the CEC will hold five public hearings starting next month to collect opinions on the issue and make a final decision by the end of June.
Minister of the Interior Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said his ministry would use the next couple of months to prepare complementary measures for an absentee voting system, which he has said in the past he hoped could be used for the next presidential election.
“Hopefully, they could be sent to the legislature for review soon,” Jiang said.
The ministry’s plan would allow people residing in Taiwan to cast votes in the presidential election outside the area where their residences are registered.
The system could also be a -factor in deciding whether the two major elections could be combined, but Yang said that many developed countries have implemented an absentee voting system in several combined elections.
“Taiwan should be able to do the same,” Yang said.
Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) said that if the system were only put into practice in the presidential election, the printing of the ballots would be simple, but added the legislative election would be more complicated because of the number of candidates involved.
“I believe that the Ministry of the Interior and the Central Election Commission will make the best arrangement after coordinating on the issue,” Wu said.
It has been estimated that more than 200,000 military personnel, 60,000 policemen and more than 1 million people who study or work outside their registered residences would benefit from the absentee voting system.