A referendum on a proposed constitutional amendment to lower the voting age from 20 to 18 is to be held in conjunction with the local elections on Nov. 26, the Central Election Commission said on Friday.
To amend the Constitution, legislators must first pass a proposed amendment with at least three-fourths of all lawmakers present for the vote supporting the measure. Voters must then endorse it in a national referendum.
On March 25, the 113-seat Legislative Yuan voted 109-0 in favor of the revision. The referendum would require the support of at least half of all eligible voters to pass.
Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times
The commission defended holding the referendum on the same day as the local elections, saying that as the proposed amendment reflects a high degree of consensus from the ruling and opposition parties in the Legislative Yuan, the choice of referendum date “should take into consideration the effect of civic participation in constitutional reform.”
It also said that the local elections would not detract from the constitutional amendment or confuse voters about its meaning.
Voters would receive a maximum of five election ballots and one referendum ballot, it added.
The commission also said that the day of the local elections would be a public holiday, making it more convenient for businesses to organize shifts for their workers so they can vote, while combining the two votes would prevent people from gathering twice amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The commission had to defend its position because the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government has decoupled referendums from national elections.
The DPP successfully campaigned late last year to oppose a referendum that would have overturned an amendment to the Referendum Act (公民投票法) its lawmakers passed in June 2019 to separate referendums and elections.
Referendums on constitutional amendments are not subject to the act, and the threshold requiring the approval of 50 percent of eligible voters is double the approval required in normal referendums.
Civic groups cited the high threshold when supporting the plan to hold the referendum on the voting age on the same day as the local elections.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Friday said it respected the commission’s decision, but called on the DPP “to re-examine its use of double-standards.”
The KMT consistently called for referendums to be held concurrently with elections during the referendums last year, which the DPP opposes, KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) said yesterday.
“If the DPP had any sense of shame, it would publicly announce that it is wrong and the KMT is right,” he said, adding that his party also firmly supports absentee ballot voting, which the DPP does not.
Additional reporting by Shih Hsiao-kuang
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