The Ministry of the Interior is encouraging new immigrants who have received their national identification cards and are eligible to vote to take part in the presidential and legislative elections on Jan. 11 next year.
It is important for new citizens to vote to help protect Taiwan’s free and democratic society, Minister of the Interior Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said at a mock voting event on Tuesday at the National Immigration Agency’s (NIA) Taipei Service Center on Tuesday.
“The voting process might only take a few seconds, but it could determine the future development of a democratic nation,” he said. “Being a free and democratic nation is Taiwan’s biggest asset.”
As citizens, new immigrants have the right to vote for their preferred candidates, Hsu said.
Even though many new immigrants have lived in Taiwan for a long time, there are some who have just received their national IDs and have not yet had a chance to vote, he said.
Several new citizens who received their national IDs this year were invited to demonstrate the voting procedure to scores of new immigrants from Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Cambodia.
Evans Jonathan Paul, a US-born linguistics professor who was naturalized in May, was the first to demonstrate.
Paul said he was very happy and “found it very important to be able to have the eligibility vote like the rest of the Taiwanese.”
“I have been interested in becoming a Taiwanese citizen for a long time. I have lived in Taiwan for 16 years and I feel I want to contribute in this way,” he said.
Chen Yu-shui (陳玉水), a Vietnamese-born translator who has been living in Taiwan for nine years, was the second person to demonstrate the voting procedure.
The upcoming elections will be her first time to vote in Taiwan, Chen said.
“I think today’s event was really helpful, because I had no idea what the procedures are inside a polling station,” she said. “After the mock vote today, which was conducted in a step-by-step manner, I now clearly know what to do.”
Hsu reminded all voters to be mindful of violations commonly found at polling stations.
Voters should not rip up their ballots even if make an error, such as voting for the wrong person, he said..
“Destroying the ballot, such as ripping it up, or taking it outside the polling station, are violations,” he said. “Other more serious offenses include bribery, which often comes with a sentence of three to 10 years.”
There are 270,419 new immigrants in the country, of which fewer than 260,000 are eligible to vote, NIA Taipei Service Center Northern Administration Corps Director Su Hui-wen (蘇慧雯) said.
New immigrants need to have received their national identification card for at least four months before they can vote in legislative elections and six months before they can vote in presidential elections, she said.
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