Taiwan’s public vote-counting system is one of the most powerful and unique aspects of its democracy, a US academic said after observing the presidential and legislative elections on Saturday.
“It’s completely transparent, low-tech, open and inspires confidence,” Kharis Templeman, a researcher at Stanford University and program manager of the Taiwan Democracy and Security Project, said in a telephone interview. “I believe that the whole world can learn something from Taiwan’s elections.”
Taiwan’s vote-counting process, in which poll workers hold up each ballot and call out the name of the candidate selected, is open to the public.
“Everyone is allowed to watch, record, supervise and even call out any mistakes,” Templeman said, adding that those involved are “using their lives to protect democracy.”
Although Saturday’s elections were not his first time observing Taiwan’s vote-counting process, he said that it was still incredibly moving.
“It strikes me every time I’ve come here to observe the elections just how good the Taiwanese election [system] is,” Templeman said.
Another impressive part of the process, and one that contributes to the legitimacy of the results, is the high level of efficiency, Templeman said, adding that the final results are usually known four to five hours after the polls close.
Regarding the campaign, he said that misinformation, false news and rumors in the media had increased compared with previous elections.
“But Taiwan has demonstrated that democracy can survive misinformation,” Templeman said.
Going forward, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who won a second term, would now have more flexibility to develop her policies, as she no longer has to worry about re-election, he said.
As for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), which suffered crushing defeats in the presidential and legislative elections, Templeman said that the party needs new leadership and the input of young people.
Tsai won re-election with a record 8.17 million votes, or 57.13 percent of the total.
It was the highest vote total ever recorded for any candidate in a presidential election in Taiwan, breaking the previous high of 7.66 million votes received by former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the KMT in the 2008 election.
Separately, analysts commenting on the electoral results said that the relationship between Taiwan and the US is expected to continue to strengthen.
Taiwan Think Tank executive committee member Lai Yi-chung (賴怡忠) said that Taiwan could be described as one of the US’ best partners in Asia, adding that Saturday’s elections were essential to defending freedom and democracy in the Indo-Pacific region.
Ever-improving relations between the two nations over the past four years were the result of the US openly supporting governments that uphold democracy and freedom, not because of any favoritism, he said.
“There is good mutual trust between the US and the Tsai administration, which strengthens US-Taiwan cooperation,” Lai said.
“We should be able to see further development between the US and Taiwan,” he said, forecasting that military and other exchanges and cooperation would continue to deepen over the next four years.
Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲), a researcher at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research, said that Tsai’s policies and positions are quite stable and have not demonstrated any drastic changes, which is very important in the governance of regional security.
In Tsai’s second term, the number of visiting US military groups is expected to increase annually and would become the norm, he said.
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