Sat, Nov 03, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Poll predicts referendum participation of 65 percent

By Rachel Lin  /  Staff reporter

Soochow University associate law professor Hu Po-yen, left, speaks at a news conference held by the Grassroots Influence Foundation yesterday in Taipei.

Photo: CNA

About 65 percent of respondents said they would participate in at least one of the 10 referendums to run alongside the nine-in-one elections on Nov. 24, a survey released by the non-profit Grassroots Influence Foundation showed yesterday.

While 90 percent of respondents said they knew referendums were to be held alongside the local elections, 38 percent said they did not have a clear idea of the rules about receiving referendum ballot papers at polling stations, while 32 percent said they were unaware that there are two stages to voting: choosing candidates in the local elections and voting in the referendums, the poll showed.

Of those polled, 48.3 percent said they did not know what issues are covered by the referendums, while 71.5 percent said that the government had not promoted them well enough.

Amendments to the Referendum Act (公民投票法) in December last year lowered thresholds, making referendums significantly easier to initiate and bringing an unprecedented number to this month’s vote.

The amendments lowered the voting age for referendums from 20 to 18, the turnout quorum from 50 percent to 25 percent, as well as the first and second-stage thresholds from 0.005 percent and 5 percent of the electorate in the most recent presidential election to 0.0001 percent and 1.5 percent respectively.

Five of the referendums are related to same-sex marriage and LGBT-inclusive education. Other topics are air pollution, the use of nuclear energy, the construction of coal-powered plants, the name of the national team at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and a ban on food imports from Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture and other areas following the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster.

Attorney Yu Min-chieh (游敏傑) said that as the act stipulates that a referendum will be deemed legitimate if 25 percent of eligible voters vote “yes,” there is the likelihood of two conflicting referendums both passing.

“The government should amend the act to allow only one referendum to prevail if such a situation arises, either by comparing the exact number of yes votes they receive or holding a second round of voting,” Yu said.

Tamkang University Department of Public Administration professor Chen Ming-siang (陳銘祥) said that the decision to print the 10 referendums on 10 separate ballot papers, instead of all on one paper, was an invitation for chaos and mistakes on polling day.

National University of Kaohsiung Department of Economic and Financial Law professor Chang Yeong-ming (張永明) said the Central Election Commission should should clearly mark a route on the floor of polling stations to direct people to avoid situations where voters accidentally leave after only voting in the local elections.

The poll collected responses online from 1,100 eligible voters.

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