The Central Election Commission (CEC) yesterday reached an agreement with the Kaohsiung City Election Commission to set up the same 1,823 polling stations used in 2018’s Kaohsiung mayoral election for the June 6 vote to recall Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜).
The arrangement was reached as some venue hosts retracted their agreements to provide space for polling stations.
As of Thursday, the Kaohsiung commission had only obtained permission to use 64.8 percent of the venues that it expects would be needed for the recall vote.
It has also drawn criticism for announcing that elementary and junior-high schools would only be allowed to provide two classrooms as polling stations, saying that it would help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Kaohsiung Deputy Mayor Chen Hsiung-wen (陳雄文), the Kaohsiung commission’s head, yesterday said that it had encountered “considerable difficulty” in trying to secure space for polling stations, as only about half of the 900 schools have agreed to provide classrooms.
CEC Chairman Lee Chin-yung (李進勇) yesterday visited Kaohsiung to help resolve the issue.
“Wherever people voted in the 2018 [Kaohsiung] mayoral election is where they will vote in the recall vote,” Lee said. “That is treating voters with respect.”
Chen said that the CEC could help the Kaohsiung commission solicit space from national universities or government agencies to be used as polling stations.
He also asked the central government to assist the Kaohsiung commission with disinfecting polling stations after the vote.
Lee asked Chen to tally universities and government agencies that are willing to provide space for the vote, adding that “if they turn down the requests, I will chop my head off.”
After a discussion lasting two-and-a-half hours, the agencies reached four agreements, CEC Vice Chairman Chen Chao-chien (陳朝建) said.
First, 1,823 polling stations are to be set up, and Kaohsiung district officers are to report the venues they have secured to the Kaohsiung commission by Tuesday next week, he said.
Second, for the sake of voters’ convenience, the polling stations should, in principle, be set up at the same locations as in the 2018 election, he said.
Third, as the Civil Servant Election and Recall Act (公職人員選舉罷免法) says that government agencies, schools and civil servants are crucial to ensuring that people can exercise their right to political participation, the Kaohsiung Education Bureau should send a letter to schools at all levels asking them to provide classrooms to be used as polling stations, he said.
Fourth, all Kaohsiung district offices must abide by the COVID-19 prevention plan established by the Kaohsiung commission and introduced at public hearings to ensure that proper disease prevention work is carried out during the vote.
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