Lawmakers yesterday passed an amendment to the Referendum Act (公民投票法) to decouple referendums from national elections.
The amended act stipulates that referendums are to be held on the fourth Saturday of August once every two years, starting in 2021.
The amendment was passed after lawmakers earlier in the day approved a proposal by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) and 66 others to hold a provisional session from yesterday through July 5 to review proposed amendments and laws.
Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times
A procedural committee meeting was held at noon, followed by the first plenary session in the afternoon.
Plenary sessions are to be held today and tomorrow, with a second round of sessions to be held on Thursday, Friday and Thursday next week.
A third round is to be held on Friday next week and from July 1 to 5.
DPP lawmakers, who hold the legislative majority, ensured that voting at the committee meeting gave priority to dealing with proposed changes to the Referendum Act, the National Security Act (國家安全法), the Act for Industrial Innovation (產業創新條例), the Agricultural Products Market Transaction Act (農產品市場交易法) and the Food Administration Act (糧食管理法).
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus secretary-general John Wu (吳志揚) had previously condemned the referendum bill’s advancement to the legislative floor after the DPP caucus on May 17 sent the proposal by DPP Legislator Chiang Chieh-an (蔣絜安) to a second reading without undergoing a committee review.
KMT lawmakers were holding a news conference on same-sex marriage bills at the time.
Chiang’s version included a clause that would have required people to present photocopies of their national ID cards when signing referendum petitions.
The requirement has faced opposition from several sectors of society, including the KMT, which has said it would be contravene democratic principles.
The DPP caucus had argued that the requirement would prevent bogus signatures and the names of dead people being used.
However, it agreed to remove the clause and said it would ask the Central Election Commission to deal with the issue of fake signatures, Ker said.
The commission should set up systems to identify and remove fake signatures, and to collect electronic signatures, he added.
Decoupling the referendums from national elections would help prevent a recurrence of long lines, slow voting and delayed results that occurred during the Nov. 24 elections last year, when 10 referendums were held alongside local elections, Ker said.
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