There is no legal basis to set up special polling stations for people with COVID-19 who are under home isolation, the Central Election Commission (CEC) said yesterday.
Political figures have urged the commission to provide options for people with COVID-19 to vote on Nov. 26 after it last week said that people who are under orders to isolate at home would not be allowed out to vote.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus on Tuesday cited practices in other countries.
Japan allowed family members of quarantined voters to cast an absentee ballot for them, South Korea extended voting periods by 90 minutes, with the added time reserved for people in quarantine, and the US allowed anyone to vote in person, but asked people with COVID-19 to wear a mask and practice social distancing, the KMT said.
CEC Deputy Chairman Chen Chao-chien (陳朝建) yesterday said that voting is a basic right, so people can do so as long as they can legally leave their home, but the right to health should also be considered.
People with COVID-19 in Japan, South Korea and the US could vote in previous elections because those nations have mail-in ballots, early voting and specialized polling stations, adaptations based on their domestic laws, Chen said, adding that the regulations in Taiwan are different.
Article 17 of the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act (公職人員選舉罷免法) stipulates that people can only vote at polling stations designated for their household registration, with the only exception being staff at polling stations, who can vote at the polling station they work at, he said.
There is no legal basis to allow mail-in ballots or set up special polling stations, he said.
Some people have asked why special rooms for school-entrance exams can be set up for students with COVID-19, but special polling stations cannot be set up, Chen said.
The answer is: The law does not limit where students are to sit a test based on their household registration, he said.
There are to be 17,649 polling stations and if a special booth were set up at every one, some would be used by many voters with COVID-19, but some might be used by a single voter, which would cause problems with ensuring that ballots are kept secret, he said.
If the Central Epidemic Command Center changes COVID-19 restrictions before the elections, the CEC would cooperate with the latest policies, he added.
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