Group advocates option of casting ‘negative’ votes


By Jake Chung  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Shih Ming-te (施明德) yesterday called for election laws to add “negative voting,” which he said would allow voters to express a wider range of opinion.
Shih told a news conference in Taipei that he and some colleagues believe that voters should have the option to express their views even when they do not want to vote for any of the candidates in an election.
Casting negative votes would help solve that problem, enabling citizens to not only express their support for a candidate, but also to express their dissatisfaction.
Under the proposal, the final ballot count would be the net result of votes for the candidate after subtracting the negative votes, Shih said.
The system would prove helpful in an election with three candidates who do not meet the needs of the job at hand, Shih said.
The system could also help boost voter turnout and cut pressure on the public budget, as candidates would receive decreased subsidies from the NT$30 per vote gained in the election, Shih said.
Shih’s comments refer to Article 43 of the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act (公職人員選舉罷免法), which stipulates how winning candidates’ campaign expenses are subsidized.
For election winners who garner one-third of the votes in their constituency when there is only one elected candidate, or those who earn half of the votes in their constituency if there are two elected candidates, campaign expenses are to be subsidized by NT$30 per vote, the article stipulates.
The system would also negate the efforts of candidates who seek to court specific social groups, Shih said.
It would go a long way toward bolstering fairness and social equality, he said.
Many things that are right are doubted and questioned at first, and while it poses some risk to those who benefit under the current system, the younger generation should support the reform, as it is creative and new, Shih said.
The Ministry of the Interior took a positive view of the concept, saying that it would offer more choices for voters to express their opinions, Deputy Minister of the Interior Jonathan Chen (陳純敬) said, adding however that potential implementation methods must be examined.
The implementation of such a proposal would likely raise several questions, including how ballots would be counted, or whether voters could stamp both choices simultaneously, Chen said.
“We must examine whether there would be loopholes or unfairness to other voters,” Chen said, while encouraging the advocates to provide the ministry with cases of implementation of the concept.
Chen declined to comment on whether the ministry would spearhead the proposed amendment of the voting system, saying that it was too early to tell and the ministry needed more data.
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