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Executive Yuan issues ultimatum on voting system

Election officials who violate directive will be dumped, Cabinet's secretary-general says

Executive Yuan issues ultimatum  on voting system

The Executive Yuan issued a final ultimatum to the chairpersons or executive supervisors of city and county election commissions to abide by the "single-stage" voting system for the January 12 Legislative Yuan election or face immediate dismissal and possible criminal prosecution.
The ultimatum was delivered by Executive Yuan Secretary-General Chen Ching-chun (陳景峻) after a meeting of a special Cabinet task force on election disputes held yesterday afternoon.
Executive Yuan Secretary-General Chen Ching-chun announced that the CEC will send a general directive to all chairman and chief supervisors of city and county election commissions today and tomorrow, "reaffirming that the resolution for the single stage voting system must be thoroughly implemented."
The decision aimed to bring to an end the festering controversy over the voting system to be used in the upcoming poll, which will feature four ballots - two for the legislative elections and two for referendum questions.
In November, the CEC resolved to adopt a "single-stage" system in which all four ballots would be collected and cast in one process, but 18 KMT-administered cities and counties, including Taipei City, have resolved to implement a "two-stage" system that would divide voting for the Legislative Yuan and the referendums into two stages or even in different rooms in polling stations.
KMT leaders have maintained the two-stage system would allow citizens who did not want to vote in the referendums not to be forced to collect ballots and have claimed that local governments have the right to arrange voting processes.
However, Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) and other Cabinet officials have maintained that the CEC is authorized by the Election and Recall Law to "direct and supervise" central government elections and that resistance to its resolution would lead to "one country, two systems" and cause social chaos.
Moreover, the Cabinet maintains that the two-stage system would violate the principle of secret ballots by exposing voter preferences and would be more chaotic and wasteful of funds and manpower than a single-stage process.
Chen said refusal by city and county election commissions to implement the CEC's designated "single-stage system" would violate criminal law, and would be liable for prosecution or sanctions under Articles 142, 147 and 153 of the Criminal Code, Article 41 of the Referendum Law, Articles 2, 3 and 22 of the Public Functionaries Service Law, Article 2 of the Legal Services Sanctions Law or Article 12 of the Public Functionaries Examination and Review Law.
Articles 142 and 147 of the Criminal Code refer, respectively, to the crime of obstructing the freedom to vote through direct interference with the freedom to vote and obstructing the order of balloting and Article 153 involves incitement to commit criminal acts or violate the law, while Article 42 of the Referendum Law involves engaging in bribery or other improper measures to interfere with the right of citizens to vote in referenda.
Third, Chen stated that "persons who violate the above laws will be dismissed from their posts and referred for prosecution or sanction."
In addition, the Cabinet executive secretary stated that the resolution passed by the KMT-controlled Legislative Yuan requiring a "two-stage" voting system was "invalid" as Article 77 of the Local Government Law, which the resolution cited, "was not applicable."
Chen reaffirmed that the Public Functionaries Election and Recall Law and the Referendum Law both clearly designated the Central Election Commission as responsible for directing and supervising and, in the case of national citizen referendums, implementing the voting process for Legislative Yuan and national citizen referendum elections.
In addition, Chen stated that the Executive Yuan had instructed the National Police Administration "to issue a general directive that all police officers must protect the right of voters to vote legally" in accordance with the "single-stage" system.
Chen also noted that the Central Election Commission Organic Law mandates that local election commissions are directly subordinate to the CEC, not local governments, and that since city and county election commission chairpersons are "nominated by the CEC and appointed by the premier," there will be no difficulty in implementing the order and said that suitable replacements had been prepared.
However, Chen stated that if the local election officials concerned abide by the CEC order, "we will take their previous statements, and those of the opposition party, as jokes."
A senior Cabinet staffer told The Taiwan News that the city and county election officials who receive the new notification do not need to reply or declare their position, but simply cease actions to carry out a "two-stage" voting system.
However, if city and county election commission chairman or supervisors take any concrete action in violation of the CEC resolution, such as publishing election announcements, election handbooks or holding exercises or seminars implementing the two-stage system, they will then be subject to prosecution or dismissal, said the Cabinet legal staffer.
KMT inciting chaos
Chen also sharply criticized the KMT for "misleading voters" and publishing a full-page advertisement in Taiwan newspapers Monday that maintained that the Executive Yuan was required to use the "two-stage" system due to Article 77 of the local governance law, which gave the Legislative Yuan the power to resolve disputes over powers between central and local authorities.
Chen stated both the Article 7 of the Election and Recall Law and the Referendum Law explicitly grant the power to "direct and supervise" Legislative Yuan elections and national referendums to the CEC and that "there is no dispute."
Chen added that KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who was reported by local media as stating that local election officials who disobeyed the "illegal" orders of the central government would not be subject to criminal sanctions, was "inciting innocent people to resist the central government" and asked "can such a person become a national leader?"