Lawmakers across party lines yesterday voted to approve a constitutional amendment to lower the voting age from 20 to 18, clearing the amendment’s path to a referendum later this year.
The proposed bill was put to a vote on the legislative floor yesterday afternoon as dozens of high-school students and representatives of non-governmental organizations mobilized outside the Legislative Yuan building in Taipei to express their support for the amendment.
The final vote was 109-0, surpassing the minimum 82 “yes” votes required for the bill to clear the legislature.
Photo: Tien Yu-hua, Taipei Times
The result was a victory for student and civic groups, many of which have spent years trying to bring Taiwan’s voting age in line with most other democratic countries.
Constitutional amendments must first clear the legislature with the approval of at least three-quarters of lawmakers present at a meeting attended by a minimum of three-quarters of all lawmakers, according to the Additional Articles of the Constitution of the Republic of China (中華民國憲法增修條文).
Once an amendment is approved by the Legislative Yuan, it must be voted on in a national referendum. It passes if half of all eligible voters cast ballots in its favor.
Civil society groups had expressed hope that the bill would clear the legislature yesterday so it could be voted on in a referendum on the same day as local elections in November, as nationwide elections are more likely to attract a higher voter turnout.
The bill to grant Taiwanese aged 18 or older the right to vote was cosponsored by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the Taiwan People’s Party and the New Power Party.
Previously, supporters of the amendment expressed concern that the bill might not pass the legislature because the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) had not committed itself to voting in favor of the amendment, although it had expressed support for lowering the voting age.
Based on the distribution of seats in the 113-seat legislature, where the DPP has 61 seats and the KMT has 39 seats, the bill could only clear the body with the support of both parties.
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