A national referendum on activating the long-mothballed Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei will be held on Aug. 28, after the Central Election Commission (CEC) confirmed the date that was already set in stone in the Referendum Act.
The Referendum Act stipulates that national referendums can only be held once every two years starting from 2021 and only on the fourth Saturday of August during those years.
The CEC said in a statement Friday that polling stations will be open on Aug. 28 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The agency will formally notify the public on May 27 what referendums will be held, hold opinion presentations on referendum questions from May 28 to Aug. 27, and release the number of eligible voters for the referendums by Aug. 24, it said.
The result of the referendums will be formally announced on Sept. 3, the CEC said, though unofficial results should be known the night of the vote.
At present, only one referendum initiative, launched by nuclear power advocate Huang Shih-hsiu (黃士修), has met the endorsement threshold required to be put to a vote. It asks: "Do you agree that the 4th Nuclear Power Plant be activated for commercial operations?"
The plant, which was close to completion in New Taipei City's Gongliao District before being shelved in 2014, has been a focal point in the debate over nuclear power.
Supporters have lauded it as a clean and relatively cheap energy able to settle problems of air quality and rising electricity costs.
Critics, however, have warned of the safety hazards of the plant in particular and nuclear power in general, citing the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant meltdown in Japan. Several other initiatives are still in the works, including one to eliminate the restriction that referendums can only be held on the fourth Saturday of August in odd-numbered years.
For a referendum in Taiwan to pass, it must have at least 25 percent of eligible voters cast ballots for it, setting a relatively high turnout threshold in a non-election year, and must also garner more votes in favor than opposed.
Initiating a referendum in Taiwan requires getting endorsements in two phases — the first requiring the signatures of at least 0.01 percent of eligible voters in the most recent presidential election, the second requiring the signatures of 1.5 percent of eligible voters.
There were 19.31 million eligible voters in the 2020 presidential election.