Thu, Nov 28, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Commissioner’s order leads to wetland ‘ballot-stuffing’

By Chang Hsun-teng, Fu Chao-piao and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Miaoli County Commissioner Liu Cheng-hung (劉政鴻) stirred up controversy as he mandated that all agencies under the county government’s jurisdiction must vote for Miaoli’s Sihu Wetland (西湖濕地), which is in the running in an online event hosted by a natural conservation group to be selected as one of the “Ten Most Beautiful Wetlands in Taiwan.”

Subsequent to Liu’s instruction, the Miaoli County Police Bureau sent out a notice to its police units requesting that every police officer vote online for Sihu Wetland at least five times a day.

According to the notice circulated on Nov. 19, the bureau requested that every unit maintain a record of online voting. It also mandated that the units should convene a weekly meeting to update and review the progress of the voting, and assign supervisors to ensure police officers were voting as instructed.

In the online poll, votes for Sihu Wetland have pushed it from No. 13 on Nov. 15 all the way to No. 1.

“This is not the first time that we were asked to do ballot-stuffing,” said a Miaoli police officer, who declined to be named, adding that the practice has been in force since the “Top 10 Small Tourist Towns” online poll last year.

“The county police are forced to ‘ballot stuff’ each time such an online voting event takes place. Any unit that does not comply will have a performance review,” he added. “This is really shameful. We are abusing public sector resources to do ‘ballot stuffing’ chores.”

Some netizens condemned the county government upon hearing the report.

In response, Miaoli County police boss Tseng Yi-chiung (曾義瓊) said: “The issued notice was to serve as encouragement. We did not mean to force people to vote.”

Another Miaoli police official said the notice was to promote participation in the voting, adding that “the purpose was to raise the profile of Miaoli County, boost tourism and enhance local economic development.”

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