Taiwan's voting age for referendums lowered to 18

The legal voting age for referendums has been lowered to 18

  1524
(Image by flickr user Theresa Thompson)

(Image by flickr user Theresa Thompson)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- As part of newly passed amendments to the Referendum Act (公民投票法), Taiwan's voting age for referendums has officially been lowered to 18 years of age.

The new law includes a provision that states, unless otherwise indicated in the constitution, Taiwanese citizens that have reached the age of 18 and are not under the care of a legal guardian, have the right to vote in referendums.

One of the justifications listed for lowering the voting age in the amendment was the fact that over 90 percent of countries provide their citizens over the age 18 the right to vote in general elections. It also mentioned that neighboring Japan had lowered its voting age for general elections to 18 in 2014.

A poll implemented in 2014 on Taiwanese between the ages of 16 to 20 by the Taiwan Alliance for the Advancement of Youth Rights and Welfare revealed that 81 percent of respondents were in favor of lowering the voting age for general elections. However, a poll implemented by the same organization in March of this year on all age groups from 16 and up found that only 37 percent were in favor of lowering the age to 18.

Yeh Ta-hua (葉大華), Secretary General of the Taiwan Alliance for Advancement of Youth Rights and Welfare (台灣少年權益與福利促進聯盟) told CNA that he was satisfied with the results of the revisions and said it was big step forward for the civil rights of 18-year-olds.

Yeh added that he hoped that the Central Education Commission and the Ministry of Education would start a new voter education campaign so that schools can actively stimulate discussions through civic curricula.

Other major amendments included in the new law include the significant lowering of the threshold to initiate a referendum, to have it accepted, and to have its results declared valid. The thresholds for all three stages of the referendum process have been greatly lowered and the Referendum Review Commission has been abolished, thus removing many significant roadblocks to the passage of a plebiscite.

The Kuomintang also added a provision to this that absentee voting would be allowed with referendums that Democratic Progressive Party legislators eventually signed on to.