2020 ELECTIONS/Public vote counting a powerful aspect of Taiwan's democracy: scholar

01/12/2020 07:10 PM
Vote counting at one of 17,226 poll station around Taiwan
Vote counting at one of 17,226 poll station around Taiwan

Taipei, Jan. 12 (CNA) Taiwan's public vote counting system is one of the most powerful and unique aspects of its democracy, an American scholar said after observing the presidential and legislative elections Saturday.

"It's completely transparent, low tech, open and inspires confidence," Kharis Templeman, a research scholar at Stanford University and program manager of the Taiwan Democracy and Security Project, told CNA in a telephone interview.

"I believe that the whole world can learn something from Taiwan's elections," he said.

Kharis Templeman (left), a research scholar at Stanford University and program manager of the Taiwan Democracy and Security Project. Photo courtesy of Templeman
Kharis Templeman (left), a research scholar at Stanford University and program manager of the Taiwan Democracy and Security Project. Photo courtesy of Templeman

Taiwan's vote counting process, in which the poll workers hold up each ballot and call out the name of the candidate selected, is open to the public.

"Everyone is allowed to watch, record, supervise, and even call out any mistakes," Templeman said. Those involved are "using their lives to protect democracy," he added.

He said that although Saturday was not his first time observing Taiwan's vote-counting process, it was still incredibly moving.

"It strikes me every time I've come here to observe the elections just how good the Taiwanese election is," Templeman said. "Just watching how the ballots were displayed, I became a little emotional."

Other visiting scholars, with no stake in Taiwan politics, were also teary-eyed at the process, he said.

Another impressive part of the process, and one that contributes to the legitimacy of the election, is the high level of efficiency, Templeman said, noting that the final results are usually known four to five hours after the polls close.

Regarding the campaign period, Templeman said misinformation, fake news and rumors in the media had increased compared to previous elections.

"But Taiwan has demonstrated that democracy can survive misinformation," he said.

Going forward, Templeman said, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who was elected to a second term, will now have more flexibility to develop her policies, as she no longer has to worry about reelection.

As for the main opposition Kuomintang, which suffered a crushing defeat in the presidential and legislative elections, Templeman expressed the view that the party needs new leadership and the input of younger people.

(By Chou Shih-hui and Chiang Yi-ching)

Enditem/pc

People gather in front of President Tsai Ing-wen
People gather in front of President Tsai Ing-wen's election campaign headquarters Saturday night as the votes are still being counted.
People wave national flags to show support for the Kuomintang in front of the party
People wave national flags to show support for the Kuomintang in front of the party's Taipei headquarters Saturday night as the votes are still being counted.
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