Voters yesterday turned down a proposal to hold referendums alongside national elections, despite it receiving, by a small margin, the most “yes” votes of the four referendum questions.
The official result announced by the Central Election Commission (CEC) last night showed 49 percent in favor and 51 percent not in favor, or 3,951,882 million and 4,120,038 million votes respectively.
The question, proposed by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), read: “Do you agree that referendums should be held alongside general elections if a referendum proposal is confirmed less than six months before a general election?”
Photo: Wu Shu-wei, Taipei Times
To pass, the number of “yes” votes needed to surpass the number of “no” votes, and total more than one-quarter of the electorate, or 4.96 million.
Neither threshold was reached, with only 19.93 percent of the total electorate voting in favor.
Opponents of the proposal pointed mainly to a chaotic process in 2018, when 10 referendums were voted on alongside the nine-in-one local elections.
They said the process puts a heavy burden on poll workers and caused confusion at polling locations, as votes were still being cast when counting began.
Opponents also cited voter fatigue caused by long lines and the number of items on the ballot, with some voters spending as long as half an hour in the voting booth to sort through the many, often confusing questions.
KMT supporters blamed administrative negligence for the messy polls rather than their timing, saying that the CEC had failed to address equipment and labor shortages.
They also questioned whether turnout for referendums would suffer if held separately, while rejecting the supposition that people would disregard the election to focus on referendums.
Until yesterday, all referendums were held on the same day as elections.
Another primary argument in favor of the proposal was financial, as the KMT said that holding referendums alongside elections would save taxpayers’ money, although opponents said that more items on the ballot would always require more money, as more poll workers and equipment would be needed.
The KMT also criticized the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for changing its stance on the issue, as it had previously supported the proposal.
The DPP said it had been forced to advocate holding the two votes at the same time to overcome the extremely high thresholds put on referendums by the KMT.
The DDP said it had changed its stance as the barriers have been lowered, and after seeing the issues that arose in 2018.
Since the referendum did not pass, no similar questions are allowed to be proposed within the next two years.
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