Fri, Jun 13, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Voting age change lacks support: poll

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

A survey released yesterday by a polling firm found that a push to lower the voting age from 20 to 18 does not enjoy majority support among the public, echoing findings recently cited by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

The poll by Taiwan Indicators Survey Research contained questions to gauge how the push to lower the voting age — highlighted during the student-led Sunflower movement — was perceived by the public.

The survey first asked respondents whether they supported or opposed reducing the voting age to 18.

The result showed that 17.4 percent said they strongly supported the idea and 21 percent were leaning toward supporting it.

Of the remaining respondents, 30.2 percent said they strongly opposed the idea, 21.9 percent were leaning toward opposing it and 9.5 percent did not give their views.

Respondents were asked the same question again after they were told by pollsters that young people over 18 can get a driver’s license, take national civil service exams, apply for early enlistment in the military and cast a ballot in a political party primary.

They were also told that 18-year-olds hold full adult criminal responsibility, despite the Civil Code stipulating that adulthood begins at age 20.

Support increased to 40.2 percent of the respondents, while 48.2 percent remained opposed and 11.6 percent did not answer.

While 18-year-olds have voting rights in more than 90 percent of democratic nations in the world,

Taiwan lacks a consensus on the issue — which would require a constitutional amendment, as the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has proposed — the research firm said.

Earlier this week, the DPP vowed to push for a constitutional amendment to lower the voting age in response to the appeal made by student groups and activists following the Sunflower movement, but the Ma administration has rejected any constitutional reform and urged the DPP to prioritize the nation’s economic needs.

The government had said that a survey by the National Development Committee late last month and a recent poll by the KMT’s research center both found that more than 55 percent of the public were opposed to lowering the voting age.

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