Citing differences in the laws governing the presidential and the legislative elections, Central Election Commission (CEC) chairwoman Chang Po-ya (張博雅) yesterday expressed concern that there could be administrative problems if the two elections were held together.
The next presidential poll is currently scheduled for March next year, while the next legislative elections are likely to be held in December this year or January next year, based on existing rules.
If a decision is made to merge the two elections, it is likely that the presidential election would be moved forward because the law requires that legislative elections be held before a new legislative session starts on Feb. 1.
Chang told the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee yesterday that: “Small differences between the Election and Recall Act for Public Servants [公職人員選舉罷免法] and the Presidential and Vice Presidential Election and Recall Act [總統副總統選舉罷免法], could result in certain administrative problems.”
“Of course the elections can still be held together without revising the laws, but it would create trouble for both voters and election workers,” she added.
For instance, Chang said that any voter who brings a cellphone into a polling station during a legislative election could be fined, but to do so during a presidential election ran the risk of criminal charges.
“Defining whether a voter who brings a cellphone into a polling station is voting in the legislative or the presidential election could be a problem,” Chang said.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) expressed annoyance with Chang’s remarks.
“People have been talking about the possibility of merging the presidential and legislative elections for some time now, but the CEC has not once informed the legislature that would involve the revision of certain laws,” Wu told Chang. “If you [the CEC] decide to merge the two elections, but the decision cannot be implemented because the legislature fails to pass revised laws before the election, would it then be the legislature’s fault that the policy could not be implemented?”
Speaking to the media after the meeting, Chang said the commission informed the Ministry of the Interior in September that certain election laws might need to be revised.
“We did not inform the -legislature at the same time because the ministry is the main policy-making body and we are in charge of execution and implementation,” she said.
Minister of the Interior Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said last night the ministry did receive a letter from the commission on the revision of election laws in September.
“We replied [in a week], saying that we agreed in principle, but believed that revisions were not urgent, and thus could be done in the future,” Jiang said in a statement. “Despite the differences [in the two laws], we did not think that would effect the commission decision-making process or that the elections could not be merged without such revisions,” he added.