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Cabinet approves measure to boost voting in national elections

2013/04/25 22:31:08

Taipei, April 25 (CNA) In a bid to allow more citizens to exercise their right to vote, Taiwan's Cabinet on Thursday approved a draft amendment to allow people to cast their ballot in the nearest voting station in a national popular vote.

The measure introduces "transfer voting," which would apply to presidential elections and national referendums, and is considered a step toward the adoption of a full-fledged absentee voting system.

After its approval by the Cabinet, the draft amendment is being sent to the Legislature for further actions.

The draft amendment to the Presidential and Vice Presidential Election and Recall Act and Referendum Act states that eligible voters can file a request to vote in a voting precinct that is convenient for them.

That means the many people who work in Taipei or other major cities in Taiwan, but whose household registration is elsewhere, including on outlying islands, can vote where they work, and won't have to travel back to their hometowns to vote.

Currently many people don't vote or can't because they couldn't take time off from their jobs or are unable to purchase a plane ticket in time to return home to vote.

To qualify for transfer voting, eligible voters will need to fill out an application form, attach a copy of their national identification card, and send it to the Household Registration Office of their chosen voting precinct, said Huang Li-hsin, director-general of the Ministry of the Interior's Department of Civil Affairs.

It is estimated that about 1.34 million people will benefit from the proposed voting system, according to the ministry, including 550,000 voters who work far away from home, 320,000 students, 250,000 election officials and police.

Men and women serving in the military will also benefit although they can only cast their ballot outside their base as no additional polling stations are planned.

Premier Jiang Yi-huah said although absentee voting and mail-in written ballots are common in advanced countries, it is better for Taiwan to begin with transfer voting as a safer and less controversial measure.

(By Claudia Liu and Ann Chen)
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