Taipei, Nov. 26 (CNA) Ting Shou-chung (丁守中), the Kuomintang (KMT) candidate in the Taipei mayoral election, on Monday withdrew his petition for a vote recount filed a day earlier, saying he will instead lodge a lawsuit to nullify the election after identifying major irregularities with the voting process.
Ting's lawyer Chou Kuo-tai (周國代) said the KMT candidate will file a lawsuit to invalidate the election based on the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act.
According to the election law, any lawsuit seeking nullification of the election has to be filed in the Taipei District Court. If the court rules in favor of Ting, the mayoral election will be invalidated and a new election held.
Speaking with the press after withdrawing Ting's petition for a recount, Chou said they have received evidence from multiple sources pointing to election irregularities caused by the Central Election Commission's (CEC) failure to abide by the law.
Ting filed the recount petition with the district court in Taipei at around 3:15 a.m. Sunday, after the CEC released the official election result at 2:36 a.m. In the petition, he asked the court to seal the ballot boxes and the voter roster in the Taipei mayoral election in preparation for a recount.
The court informed Ting that he would have to pay a deposit for the recount within one day of filing the petition. As a total of 1,427,643 ballots were cast in the mayoral election in Taipei, the amount required as a deposit was NT$4,282,929 (US$138,606), with each vote costing NT$3.
Ting said Sunday he would pay the deposit to the court by 10 a.m. Monday.
The official result showed that incumbent Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), an independent candidate, won re-election by a razor-thin margin of 0.23 percent, or 3,254 votes in Saturday's local government elections.
Ko received 580,820 votes, or 41.05 percent of the votes cast, against Ting's 577,566 votes (40.82 percent). Yao Wen-chih (姚文智) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) received 244,641 votes, or 17.29 percent.
Due to the inclusion of 10 referendums in Saturday's elections, long lines were observed at polling stations across the country, with many voters saying they waited for more than two hours to cast their ballots.
In Taipei, according to Ting, although vote counting and reporting began shortly after 4 p.m., some polling stations did not close until 7:46 p.m., because of the long lines. As a result, voters were able to check up-to-date election results online while waiting to cast their ballots.
Ting said that for a period of three hours and 46 minutes, voters saw the results coming in as they cast their ballots, which he characterized as "a deliberate effort to manipulate strategic voting."
The "strategic voting" Ting referred to was the possibility that pan-green voters who initially intended to vote for Yao might have changed their minds and voted for Ko to keep Ting from winning after seeing the early polling results indicated Yao was out of contention.
In Saturday's elections, the DPP suffered a crushing defeat, winning only six of the 22 city mayor and county magistrate elections, while the KMT won 15. The DPP lost more than half of the 13 posts it originally held, while the KMT more than doubled the six it held before the election.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) announced her resignation as DPP chairperson late Saturday to take responsibility for the ruling party's defeat in the elections.