Sun, Jan 15, 2012 - Page 3 News List

2012 ELECTIONS: Centenarians, brides flock to polling stations

By Hu Chien-sen and Chen Fung-li  /  Staff Reporters, with CNA

A woman votes while still wearing her wedding gown after getting married in Greater Tainan earlier in the day.

Photo: Wu Chun-feng, Taipei Times

Among the 13.452 million citizens who cast their ballots yesterday were monks, newlyweds and centenarians accompanied by their grandchildren.

In Miaoli County (苗栗縣), 104-year-old Sun Tien-fu (孫添富) said he had never missed an election in Taiwan. Born in 1908, Sun said that all the candidates he has voted for have ended up getting elected.

Centenarian voters were also visible in Greater Tainan, Yilan and Hsinchu, with 112-year-old Sun Chiang-huai from Greater Tainan saying that everyone should value the chance to vote because democracy in Taiwan did not come easy.

Many elderly veterans also lined up outside a polling station in Nantou City before 8am, where staff thoughtfully provided seats for them so they could sit while waiting to vote.

According to the Veteran’s Home, many of the residents at the facility have passed away, with the 200 seniors who are left averaging about 80 years old.

In Yilan, the good weather also boosted voter turnout, with lines of voters standing outside polling stations before 8am.

In Greater Taichung, 30-year-old Lai Hsiu-man (賴秀滿) drew public attention when she showed up at a polling station wearing her wedding dress. Taking part in the election on her wedding day created an “unforgettable” memory, she said.

Lai and her groom, Ou Yu--ching (歐育青), arrived at the polling station accompanied by their families immediately after the wedding ceremony.

“I wanted to have a good memory of the day we got married,” she said, explaining why they chose election day to tie the knot.

Another newlywed couple in Nantou County’s Caotun Township (草屯) drove directly from their wedding ceremony in the morning to a polling station, where they were warmly greeted by other voters.

Lee Lun-te (李倫德), the groom, and Huan Yi-ju (黃怡儒), his bride, said that although getting married was one of the most important events in their lives, voting in the presidential elections was even more important.

In Yilan County’s Jiaosi Township (礁溪), a 23-year-old woman, surnamed Chan (詹), also voted while dressed in a white gown.

Having been invited to be a bridesmaid yesterday, Chan said she would have regretted it if she had been unable to cast her first vote in a presidential election and so got up early to vote in the morning.

Meanwhile, in Nantou County’s Puli Township (埔里), Chung Tai Temple master Wei Chueh (惟覺) led hundreds of monks from the temple in the mountain to the polling station via shuttle bus. Nuns from Greater Tainan’s Puti Temple traveled down from the mountains to cast their votes.

In Taitung County, a number of Aborigines arrived at the polling station dressed in traditional Amis clothing, attracting much attention and helping to create a carnival-like atmosphere.

However, more than 5,000 people were unable to get home to cast their votes yesterday because dense fog closed airports on the islands of Penghu and Matsu.

As of 4pm, about 40 flights from Taiwan proper to Penghu and Matsu had been canceled. While airline companies said that most passengers were generally understanding about the situation, others vented their frustration in local TV broadcasts at missing the polls.

“I got up at 4am to catch a taxi for my flight to Penghu,” one passenger said at Kaohsiung International Airport.

According to the Central Weather Bureau, the heavy fog was likely to persist until today. The bureau, which had warned that there might be fog since Friday, said it was very difficult to forecast when the fog would clear, as it is a temporary and localized weather pattern.

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