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Independents want right to supervise ballot counting
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-07-22 04:01 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taipei City mayoral candidates Ko Wen-je and Neil Peng visited the Legislative Yuan today to demand the right for independent candidates to send supervisors to monitor the counting of election ballots.

At present, Article 59 of the Election and Recall Act only allows political parties to send monitors on election day.

A delegation including Ko, Peng and their key aides visited Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng Tuesday to explain their cause and to demand amendments to the law in the sense that independent candidates could also send in observers to witness the counting of the ballots.

Even though Ko has won the support of the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party, he has refused to join the party in order to be able to form a broad opposition coalition, but according to the law, that makes him ineligible to choose monitors. The same counted for Peng and for former DPP lawmaker Shen Fu-hsiung, who is also running as an independent in the November 29 Taipei City mayoral election.

The Ko camp gave a hypothetical example of a problem likely to occur during the counting of the votes. Under the existing legislation, if a stain was found on a ballot where his name had been marked, only an observer for his main rival, Kuomintang candidate Sean Lien, would be allowed to help decide whether the ballot was valid, he told reporters.

Opposition parties said they were willing to amend the law or to give up some of their own quota for election monitors to benefit the independent candidates.

Ko has been leading in the opinion polls for the mayoral battle. His advantage over Lien has ranged between 7 percent and 20 percent in surveys conducted over the past few weeks.

Last week, Ko recruited former New Party legislator Yao Li-ming as his campaign manager in a major breakthrough for his efforts to gather more support for a coalition to unseat the KMT, which has run the capital for the past 16 years. Yao was received with criticism from some quarters as he was one of the key leaders of the “red shirts” who tried to unseat then-President Chen Shui-bian by holding massive protests.

Media reports last week suggested he would try to recruit the top leader of the movement, former DPP Chairman Shih Ming-te, to Ko’s camp, but both later denied any such plans.

In a rare public appearance, People First Party Chairman James Soong lashed out at the KMT but failed to take sides in the mayoral election.

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