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Cabinet approves draft bill to allow absentee voting for referendums

02/22/2024 07:17 PM
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Voters in the offshore county of Penghu cast their ballets in the nationwide 4-in-1 referendum on Dec. 18, 2021. CNA file photo
Voters in the offshore county of Penghu cast their ballets in the nationwide 4-in-1 referendum on Dec. 18, 2021. CNA file photo

Taipei, Feb. 22 (CNA) The Cabinet passed a draft bill on Thursday that if approved by the Legislature will allow Taiwan nationals to vote from outside their constituencies during national referendums.

The draft bill, proposed by the Central Election Commission (CEC), applies to voters in Taiwan who are unable or unwilling to return to the city or county in which they are registered, but does not include citizens living overseas.

Eligible citizens have to apply to the CEC through paper forms or an online system for permission to vote in absentia during a referendum, a minimum of 60 days before the vote, according to the draft bill.

The CEC first submitted the bill to the Cabinet in 2020, in accordance with Article 25 of the Referendum Act, which states that absentee voting may be allowed during a national referendum, once it is prescribed in a separate law by the competent authority, namely the CEC.

The bill failed to clear the legislative floor by the time the previous Legislature ended its four-year term on Jan. 31, making it necessary to propose the bill again.

In the bill, the CEC explained that once voters complete their registration a minimum of 60 days prior to the referendum, the local branch of the central election commission will compile a list of absentee voting applicants 55 days ahead of the vote. The household registration office will then inspect the applicant list 50 days before the vote takes place, informing applicants of the outcome of their application.

Approved voters will have their registration temporarily transferred to the household registration office in the constituency from where they applied 45 days ahead of the vote, and their names will be published 15 days before the referendum.

On the day of the national referendum, voters will be able to cast absentee ballots at the transferred voting station, according to the bill.

CEC Vice Chairperson Chen Chao-chien (陳朝建) said at a press conference after the weekly Cabinet meeting that absentee voting will first be permitted for national referendums and only at a later date elections. Absentee voting in future elections can then reference the experience in national referendums once a stable procedure is built for such voting, Chen added.

(By Lai Yu-jen and Evelyn Yang)

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