A recall vote of Taiwan Statebuilding Party Legislator Chen Po-wei (陳柏惟) in his constituency in Taichung is to be postponed from next month to October, the Central Election Commission said on Friday, citing COVID-19 restrictions.
The vote is to be held on Oct. 23, from 8am to 4pm, the commission said.
The vote would not be held on its originally scheduled date, Aug. 28, because preparations have been “greatly disrupted and delayed” amid the level 3 COVID-19 alert, which is to remain in place until at least July 26, it said.
Setting up polling stations at schools and other venues, as well as the recruitment and training of polling staff, has been affected by school closures and a ban on indoor gatherings of more than four people, it said.
The commission ruled out holding the recall vote on the same day as national referendums, which have also been postponed, from Aug. 28 to Dec. 18.
Holding the recall vote and the referendums on the same day would distract from the recall, the commission said, adding that separate dates would ensure that “the results are consistent with public opinion.”
Holding the recall vote later than Oct. 23 would also risk undermining voters’ rights, it said.
In response to the announcement, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) called the commission’s reasoning “nonsensical.”
By separating the dates, the commission is trying to discourage people from voting in the recall, the KMT said in a statement.
Attention on the recall vote would be diminished if it is not held on the same day as the nationwide referendums, it said.
Meanwhile, Chen said in a Facebook livestream that he does not have a problem with the postponement, adding that people should cast their ballot on polling day.
The 35-year-old first-time lawmaker last year won his legislative seat narrowly against then-incumbent KMT lawmaker Yen Kuan-heng (顏寬恆).
Yang Wen-yuan (楊文元), who initiated the recall campaign, said that Chen had been neglecting his constituency, behaving outrageously in the legislature and on social media, and had supported the government’s decision to lift a ban on the importation of pork containing residue of the feed additive ractopamine.
With the recall vote now set for a later date, the commission is expected to announce the number of eligible voters by Oct. 19.
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