If the world learned anything about Taiwan from Saturday’s elections, it was that the people of Taiwan do not take their democracy for granted.
After passionate campaigns by incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and challenger Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) that polarized supporters of Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Han’s Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), Saturday’s warm, sunny election day, in which Tsai convincingly won reelection and the DPP maintained its legislative majority, was calm and, for many voters, cathartic.
Taiwanese came out in droves to vote, with many having made long journeys from overseas or across the country to do so. Despite the high turnout, which saw 74.9% of the 19.3 million-strong electorate casting presidential ballots, queues at polling stations were reportedly manageable and under 50 incidents or irregularities were reported over the course of the day.
Taiwan’s deep-rooted respect for the democratic process and strict adherence to election law was reflected in two stories that emerged on Sunday. At a polling station in Kaohsiung, an on-duty police officer spotted a fugitive wanted for a theft case, but waited until the man had cast his vote to apprehend him. In Changhua, a man who complained that an overly-wet ink pad had led to his presidential ballot being spoiled was granted a new slip only after election officials came to the site to judge the case, making history as the first such case to be approved.
Taiwan’s public vote counting system, which sees each ballot held up for inspection by observers and called out before being tallied, was praised by Stanford research scholar Kharis Templeman, who is also the program manager of the Taiwan Democracy and Security Project, in an interview with state-run Central News Agency.
“It’s completely transparent, low tech, open and inspires confidence,” Templeman said, adding that the whole world could learn something from Taiwan’s elections.
Full article by Cat Thomas on KM: