Thu, Mar 19, 2015 - Page 4 News List

Student voting rights at risk: DPP

TINKERING:The Ministry of Education said that it would meet with representatives from colleges and universities to discuss amending the date of next year’s final exams

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Students representing 21 universities yesterday attend a news conference where they challenged the Central Election Commission over the date for next year’s presidential and legislative elections.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday called on the Ministry of Education to protect the right to vote of college and university students, voicing concern that the Central Election Commission (CEC) has declared that next year’s presidential and legislative elections are to be held on Jan. 16, which might overlap with final exams.

“The commission announced … that the presidential and legislative elections will be held simultaneously on Jan. 16. However, for most of the universities across the country, that is the day after the last day of finals week, and for some, it is even in the middle of finals week,” DPP Department of Youth Affairs director Fu Wei-che (傅偉哲) told a news conference. “The ministry must not overlook students’ right to vote, and help to negotiate for a solution as soon as possible.”

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications should draft a plan to facilitate students’ return to their hometowns to vote, Fu added.

“There were not enough trains — and not enough discounted high-speed rail tickets — ahead of last year’s nine-in-one local elections for students who would have liked to go home to vote. We therefore urge the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to learn from last year’s lesson, and come up with a transportation plan for our young voters,” Fu said, adding that, in a democracy, a government should do everything possible to help young voters participate in elections.

Deputy Minister of Education Chen Der-hwa (陳德華) said that the ministry would call a meeting with representatives from universities to arrange their final dates.

“According to the ministry’s own survey, most universities have their final exams from Jan. 11 to Jan. 15, meaning that finals will be over before Jan. 16,” Chen said. “However, we have also noticed that election day is in the middle of finals week for some schools. For that, we would call a meeting to see how we may arrange the dates.”

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