《TAIPEI TIMES》 Amendments aim to halt meddling with elections
The logo of the Ministry of the Interior is pictured in an undated photograph. Photo: Huang Hsin-po, Taipei Times
By Huang Hsin-po / Staff reporter
The Ministry of the Interior on Thursday finalized draft amendments to the Presidential and Vice Presidential Election and Recall Act （總統副總統選舉罷免法） and the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act （公職人員選舉罷免法） targeting vote-buying, gambling and foreign actors meddling with local elections.
The amendments would introduce a prison term of up to five years for bookmakers and a possible fine of up to NT$500,000 （US$16,757）, while people who place bets on the outcome of an election or recall vote would face detention, a prison term of up to six months or a fine of up to NT$100,000.
To encourage political parties to nominate candidates responsibly, the amendments would introduce a fine of NT$500,000 to NT$50 million for parties whose candidates engage in vote-buying, regardless of whether they later withdraw from a race.
To prevent disinformation from influencing voters, the proposed amendments borrow from US legislation a provision requiring advertisements for elections and recall votes to specify who paid for them.
The Central Election Commission would be authorized to formulate rules on the ads and would be required to keep records.
The draft amendments would ban ads paid for by foreign entities and afford stakeholders the right to file cease-and-desist letters to entities that run such ads against them.
Due to criticism of a requirement for people aiming to run for president or vice president to collect signatures on paper, the proposed amendments would allow people to provide their signatures electronically, while retaining the option for traditional signatures.
One amendment aims to close a loophole in Article 27 of the Political Parties Act （政黨法） that has allowed parties to jointly nominate a candidate, preventing their dissolution for not fielding a candidate for four consecutive years.
A candidate can only be nominated by one political party, the proposed amendment says.
The amendment would only apply to local and legislative elections, not presidential elections, the ministry said.
The Political Parties Act does not limit the number of parties that a person can join, which created the loophole, Civil Affairs Department Director Lin Ching-chi （林清淇） said.
The draft amendments would be forwarded to the Executive Yuan and, if approved, would then be delivered to the Legislative Yuan for review, the ministry said.
If passed into law, the amendments would apply to the 2022 local elections, it said.