Taipei residents who tested positive for COVID-19 should be enabled to vote, three Taipei mayoral candidates said at separate events yesterday as they weighed in on a debate over rules that bar those who have the virus from voting in the local elections next month.
People who are ordered to isolate at home after testing positive for the virus and their close contacts would not be allowed to cast their ballots, the Central Election Commission said in August as it released the rules for the elections on Nov. 26.
The rules sparked a nationwide debate, with lawmakers on Thursday discussing whether the rules infringe on people’s right to vote, as guaranteed in the Constitution.
Photo: CNA
However, commission Chairman Lee Chin-yung (李進勇) told lawmakers that a wave of COVID-19 infections coinciding with the elections poses difficulties that cannot be overcome.
He said some people have suggested arranging separate voting stations and delayed voting for those under isolation orders.
However, this would not be feasible, as people can only vote where they are registered, which might be far from where they are isolating, he said.
Photo: CNA
Setting up extra voting stations would pose many challenges, Lee added.
The commission on Friday issued a statement saying isolation orders are based on the Communicable Disease Control Act (傳染病防治法), as well as Constitutional Interpretation No. 690, which determined that the orders do not contravene the Constitution.
However, the debate was not over for the three Taipei mayoral candidates.
Photo: CNA
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator and Taipei mayoral candidate Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) yesterday said people should not be arbitrarily deprived of their constitutionally guaranteed right to vote.
The government has since August eased COVID-19 policies and the election commission should follow suit, he said.
Hopefully, the Executive Yuan and the commission can implement supplementary measures that enable people under isolation orders to vote, Chiang added.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei mayoral candidate Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who headed the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) until he announced his candidacy, yesterday said the election rules take voting rights and disease prevention needs into account.
The COVID-19 situation might have changed by Nov. 26, he added.
However, Chen said he is confident that the CECC and the election commission would come up with a solution that enables every registered voter to cast their ballot.
Independent candidate Vivian Huang (黃珊珊), a former Taipei deputy mayor, yesterday said the voting rules were outdated, especially as Taiwan’s borders have been opened to tourist groups since they were announced.
Everybody should get the chance to vote, she said, urging the government to find a solution.
A solution “should have been found long ago,” she added.
Otherwise, people might test positive in an quick test without reporting it to the authorities so they can cast their ballot despite having COVID-19, which would pose a greater threat, Huang said.
The government should implement rules that enable everyone to vote, instead of rules that incentivize breaches, she added.
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