Taiwanese might soon be able to vote in referendums from anywhere within the country after the Executive Yuan yesterday approved a bill that would allow ballots to be cast away from home districts.
The new rules, which have been sent to the Legislative Yuan for deliberation, will not apply to the referendums on Dec. 18 or for people outside of Taiwan.
It is inconvenient and expensive for many people who work or study away from their registered district to travel there to cast a ballot, which affects their right to vote, the Central Election Commission (CEC) said of the need for absentee voting.
Eligible voters would be allowed to “transfer” their ballot to a polling location in another district, while those in remote areas or outlying islands could vote from elsewhere within their city or county, the proposed rules say.
However, people must apply at least 60 days in advance with their local CEC office for approval to vote in such fashion to allow time to prepare voter rolls, the bill says.
An estimated 2 million people nationwide would be affected by the changes, CEC Chairman Lee Chin-yung (李進勇) said, adding that there was not enough time to implement the new rules by December, but hopefully they can be promulgated by 2023.
In early 2018, Article 25 of the Referendum Act (公民投票法) was amended to allow absentee voting in referendums, which required a separate law to be drafted to prescribe the procedure.
Absentee voting in referendums has been discussed for many years, but there has been disagreement on how it should be implemented, the CEC said.
With the understanding that voting should be protected from outside interference to ensure reliable results, the community has agreed on a gradual and progressive approach, it said.
Instead of other common methods of absentee voting, such as mail-in ballots, electronic voting and voting by proxy, the commission said it decided on a “vote transfer” approach, as it still allows people to vote in person on the day of a referendum.
If the system works well, it might inform potential absentee voting procedures for regular elections, the CEC said.
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