Despite heart in the right place, Ko’s voting system doesn’t cut it

The China Post news staff

Amid Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je’s entanglement in a controversy over the selection of various departmental heads versus I-Voting, a system of open elections for city government officials promised by him, many questions deserve to be asked, including questions about Ko’s sincerity (or his naivete) in promising these reforms. The efficacy of opening large numbers of positions to the public was also questioned by The China Post in an editorial last week, when we noted that sometimes small circles make effective decisions. One innovative mechanism of Ko’s reforms worth expounding on is the introduction of votes for department chiefs that don’t just express approval for a candidate but also allow the casting of votes reflecting negative and neutral opinions on a candidate. An ��O�� signified like, carrying a positive score, ��X�� signified dislike, carrying a reciprocal minus score, and ������ means neutral. Thus, three out of five candidates for labor department chief received negative scores. Voting requirements have long been a traditional tool levied by all constituencies against those they deem inferior. Wealth and professional prestige, and literacy, have been proposed and in some cases have been used to discriminate and disqualify certain voters, as in the case of the U.S. Jim Crow laws requiring literacy for African-American voters during the Reconstruction years. Because the democratic experiment has as its goal the inclusion of the masses, though, with successive waves of democratic expansion these discriminating practices have been tossed out. This is necessary for a democracy, because the criteria for eligible voters must be as attainable as possible to merit democracy’s appeal and inspire peoples’ support. The OX�� system is an attempt at improving the meaningfulness of election results, which comes after ensuring that factors such as wealth and knowledge have no role in voter eligibility. Will this system do a better job of reflecting the emotional trends of voters toward each candidate? This new voting procedure is an interesting attempt at improving what is currently a purely positive vote-counting system. However, in its current form the proposal carries too many dangerous pitfalls to be implemented on a significant scale. Age has become a primary voting eligibility threshold for modern democracies, and that is as it should be. Still, as discrimination has steadily become less salient an issue, the shortcomings of the other side of the equation �X the oversimplification of voters’ wishes �X has increasingly been a subject of criticism.