Cabinet approves draft bill to allow absentee voting for referendums

Taiwan's Cabinet on Thursday passed a draft bill that is aimed at allowing citizens in the country to vote outside their constituencies during national referendums.

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

Eligible citizens will have to apply to the CEC 60 days in advance for absentee voting permission during a referendum, according to the draft bill.

Once the applicants gain the requisite CECC approval, they will be able to vote at a polling station outside their registered constituency, the bill proposes.

According to CEC head Lee Chin-yung (???), there are approximately 2 million Taiwanese employees and students who can take advantage of the new policy, once the bill is passed in the Legislature.

While the bill is expected to be passed soon, absentee voting is unlikely to be allowed during the Dec. 18 referendum, because poll workers will need at least six months preparatory training, Lee said.

The CEC first submitted the draft 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 upcoming national referendum was postponed from Aug. 28, due to challenges related to the COVID-19 situation in Taiwan at the time, according to the CECC.

On Dec. 18, the electorate will vote on four questions, two of which were initiated by the opposition Kuomintang (KMT), asking whether Taiwan should revoke a new regulation that allow imports of pork containing traces of the controversial livestock drug ractopamine and whether referendums should again be held in conjunction with general elections.

The other two questions on the ballot are about the fate of the mothballed 4th nuclear power plant in New Taipei and a liquefied natural gas terminal that is being built near a coastal algae reef in Taoyuan City.

After that vote, the next possible date for a national referendum is in August 2023, according to Taiwan law, which allows such votes every two years, on the fourth Saturday of August.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel