Lawyers said that the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) is unlikely to win a lawsuit he is preparing to annul the result of Saturday’s Taipei mayoral election.
Of the top three in the five-way race, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) garnered 580,820 votes, or 41.05 percent, while Ting received 577,566 (40.82 percent) and Pasuya Yao (姚文智) of the Democratic Progressive Party got 244,641 votes (17.29 percent).
Ting yesterday said he would apply to have the election annulled, as simultaneous voting and vote-counting — which arose after long lines at polling stations saw some not close until 7:46pm, while counting and reporting at others began shortly after 4pm — produced a “dump-save effect,” with pan-green voters seeing early results indicating Yao was out of contention and therefore “sacrificing” their vote for him in favor of Ko to keep the KMT from winning.
However, lawyers cited the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act (公職人員選舉罷免法), saying that simultaneous voting and vote-counting is not illegal.
According to Article 19 of the act, voters who arrive at a polling station before a specified time — 4pm for Saturday’s elections — are allowed to vote even after the deadline, lawyer Lin Chun-yi (林俊儀) said.
According to the law, a “polling station” is not limited to the indoor space where voting is conducted, Lin said, adding that voters who arrived by 4pm and were in line were legally allowed to vote.
In addition, the act does not stipulate that voting in an electoral district must be completed before counting can begin there, he said.
However, there were some legal uncertainties in the elections, he said.
The election commissions need to plan more carefully or solve problems through amendments to prevent unfair voting, he said.
Lawyer Liu Pang-hsiu (劉邦繡), who has previously been a polling station manager, said that according to Article 69 of the act, Ting can apply for a recount, as the difference between votes for him and Ko was within 0.3 percent.
According to the act, polling stations are to immediately begin counting ballots after voting ends, he said.
Election staff followed the rules and did not do anything illegal, Liu said, adding that Ting’s chances of having the election declared invalid on this account are slim.
Ting first needs to prove how many, or what percentage, of polling stations were still receiving votes 4pm, lawyer Lin Chun-feng (林俊峰) said.
Second, he needs to determine how many voters cast ballots under these circumstances, he said.
Third, he needs to determine how many voters were viewing live updates of results while they were standing in line, Lin Chun-feng said, adding that the most difficult point for Ting to prove would be: “How many people changed their vote because of this?”
“Can all of the blame be put on the Central Election Commission or the Taipei City Election Commission?” he asked.
Meanwhile, people familiar with judicial matters said that according to the act, a lawsuit to invalidate an election is different from a lawsuit to invalidate the winner’s elected status.
In the first case, a suit would be against an election commission, they said.
If the courts determine that there were illegalities in a commission’s handling of the process — enough to influence the results — they could declare the result invalid and a new election would be held, they said.
A lawsuit against a winner can be filed by candidates in the same electoral district, prosecutors or an election commission, they said.
One of the reasons for this kind of lawsuit is when the winner prevented a candidate from campaigning through assault, intimidation or other illegal methods, they said.
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