ELECTIONS 2022/Referendum on lowering voting age to be held with local elections

04/15/2022 09:52 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, April 15 (CNA) A referendum on a proposed constitution amendment to lower the voting age in Taiwan from 20 to 18 will be held in conjunction with nationwide elections for local offices on Nov. 26, the Central Election Commission (CEC) said Friday.

To amend the Republic of China (Taiwan) Constitution, legislators must first pass a proposed amendment with at least three-fourths of all lawmakers present for the vote supporting the measure, and then voters must endorse it in a national referendum.

The 113-seat Legislative Yuan voted 109-0 in favor of the revision on March 25, sending the issue to a national referendum that will require the support of at least half of all eligible voters to come into effect.

The CEC defended holding the referendum on the same day as the local elections by saying that because the proposed amendment reflects a high degree of consensus from the ruling and opposition parties in the Legislative Yuan, the fixing of referendum date "should take into consideration the effect of civic participation in constitutional reform."

It also argued that the local elections would not obscure the focus of the constitutional amendment or confuse voters about its meaning.

Voters will receive a maximum of five election ballots and one referendum ballot, it added.

The CEC also said local election day will be a public holiday, making it more convenient for businesses to organize shifts for their workers to go and vote, and combining the two votes would prevent the holding of two separate gatherings amid COVID-19.

The CEC had to defend its position because the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government has insisted in recent years on decoupling 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 its lawmakers passed in June 2019 to separate referendums and elections.

Referendums on constitutional amendments are not subject to the Referendum Act, and the threshold requiring the approval of 50 percent of eligible voters is double the 25 percent approval required in normal referendums.

Civic groups cited the high threshold in supporting holding a referendum on the voting age on the same day as local elections.

(By William Yen)

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