The New Power Party (NPP) caucus yesterday threw its support behind a proposal by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to amend the Referendum Act (公民投票法) to allow absentee voting.
The KMT caucus has proposed that the Legislative Yuan hold an extraordinary session from today to Monday to discuss a number of urgent issues, including allowing absentee voting in referendums, after the Central Election Commission (CEC) last week postponed four referendums that were scheduled to take place on Aug. 28 to Dec.18.
Legislative Speaker You Si-kun (游錫堃) presided over a coordination meeting yesterday afternoon to decide whether an extraordinary session should be held to deliberate changes to the Referendum Act.
Photo copied by Hsieh Chun-lin, Taipei Times
NPP Chairwoman Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華) said before the meeting that she was glad that the CEC had responded to calls for the referendums to be postponed, but whether the COVID-19 outbreak would have eased by Dec. 18 remains an uncertainty.
“We will submit our version of the amendment to allow people to vote through absentee ballots in referendums,” Chen said.
However, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said his caucus opposed such an amendment, as there should be special regulations governing the enforcement of an absentee voting system.
The DPP caucus also opposes convening an extraordinary session to discuss the amendment, Ker said.
The KMT is using absentee voting as an excuse to promote mail-in ballots, which are against the Constitution, he said.
DPP caucus secretary general Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) said that the DPP’s position has always been to stipulate special regulations for absentee voting.
As lawmakers failed to come to an agreement on the issue at yesterday’s meeting, the issue is expected to be put to a vote at another meeting today.
On Monday, CEC Chairman Lee Chin-yung (李進勇) said that the commission’s draft bill on absentee voting is not expected to be enacted before the Dec. 18 referendum, which means it is unlikely to be an option for voters.
Furthermore, the commission will need at least six months to train poll workers on the mechanics of an absentee voting system, he added.
The CEC’s draft bill proposes allowing absentee voting in a referendum only if voters are unable to return to the city or county in which they are registered, Lee said.
No agreement has been reached on whether to allow voting online or from overseas, he said, citing fraud and security concerns.
Additional reporting by CNA
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