DPP urges university term date changes

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Mar 11, 2015 - Page 3

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤) yesterday called for changes to universities’ commencement and examination dates for the next academic schedule to encourage higher youth voter turnout in next year’s synchronized presidential and legislative elections.

The Central Election Commission on Monday said a meeting had been called, including representatives from the Ministry of Examination, the Ministry of Education, the Examination Center and the Central Election Commission, adding that a meeting to decide on the election date would be held on Tuesday next week.

The commission has come under pressure for suggesting that the date of the elections would fall on Jan. 9 or Jan. 16 next year, which would clash with universities’ final exams period.

“By shifting the starting date, the students would be able to go back to their hometowns to vote on Jan. 16,” Lee said, adding that it could also help relieve Lunar New Year holiday traffic congestion.

Central Election Commission Chairman Liu Yi-chou (劉義周) said the shift would need to be further discussed, while Minister of Education Wu Se-hwa (吳思華) said academic schedules are up to each institution.

Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) on Monday questioned the projected election date, saying it is “either the commission’s lack of consideration or a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) trick.”

The election date in 2012 clashed with universities’ final examinations and had a negative effect on the voter turnout, Lai said.

Lai called for a shift of the election date by a week to Jan. 23 next year, but the commission said it would be against the law to do so.

The Civil Servants Election and Recall Act (公職人員選舉罷免法) requires that new lawmakers be elected 10 days before the previous legislature’s term ends. As Jan. 31 next year is the last day the incumbent legislators’ term, Jan. 21 would be the last possible date, but since it does not fall on a weekend, the closest date would be Jan. 16, the commission said.