Tue, Mar 19, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Absentee voting OK if it is just domestic: Cabinet

PRAGMATIC:A Cabinet report delivered to the legislature said that overseas absentee voting would be complicated to set up, so transfer voting was the best option for now

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Executive Yuan yesterday told lawmakers that it supports the implementation of transfer voting for domestic voters in national referendums or presidential elections to increase democratic participation and guarantee civil rights, but added that the matter would be decided by the legislature.

“The Executive Yuan recommends the adoption of transfer voting in Taiwan. For example, people who live in Pingtung County could vote in Taipei by-elections,” Executive Yuan Secretary-General Chen Wei-zen (陳威仁) told the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee.

Lawmakers had requested that Chen and Central Election Commission Chairwoman Chang Po-ya (張博雅) deliver a report on the implementation of absentee voting in national referendums and elections, an issue that has been a topic of heated discussion after the Cabinet proposed holding a referendum to decide if the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should be completed or suspended.

Establishing absentee voting for overseas citizens, in particular Taiwanese businesspeople in China, would be “complex,” which was why the Cabinet favored implementing a domestic resident only voting mechanism for now, Chen said.

The Cabinet will respect whatever decision lawmakers make on when and how absentee voting should be implemented, Chen said.

Preparatory work for the implementation of transfer voting in the nuclear power plant referendum would take between one and three months, Chang told lawmakers.

Citizens who intend to vote in a different constituency would be required to register 30 days in advance, and it would take another 20 days to review the registration, Chang said.

The estimated cost of a national referendum is about NT$780 million (US$26.2 million) and the implementation of absentee voting would cost an additional NT$80 million, Chang said.

The commission is required by law to hold any referendum initiated by the Legislative Yuan within six months of receiving the proposal, Chang added.

Separately, Deputy Minister of the Interior Hsiao Chia-chi (蕭家淇), who also attended the legislative session, released the results of a public opinion poll conducted between March 8 and March 11 on absentee voting, which showed that 76 percent of respondents were in favor of the mechanism.

However, if the system was implemented only on the nation’s outlying islands, then the support rate fell to just above 30 percent, Hsiao said.

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