TAIPEI (CNA) – The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus will propose during a legislative session a revision to its proposed amendments to the Referendum Act that would have required people to provide photocopies of their national identity cards when signing referendum petitions, DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said on June 17.
Instead, the DPP caucus will ask the Central Election Commission (CEC) to allow electronic and online signature-gathering for referendum petitions, as stipulated in the Referendum Act, according to Ker.
The bill, sponsored by DPP Legislator Chiang Chieh-an (蔣絜安), was forwarded for a second reading without being subject to review in the committee stage.
The Legislature on Monday agreed to a proposal put forth by Ker and 66 other legislators to hold a special legislative session June 17-July 5 to process the proposed amendments to the Referendum Act, the draft amendments to the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, and other bills.
A legislative procedure committee meeting was scheduled to start at noon Monday, while the first plenary meetings were expected to be held Monday afternoon to Wednesday, and the second round of plenaries on June 20, 21 and 27. The third round of plenary meetings will be held on June 28 and July 1-5.
The first plenary meetings will focus on the proposed amendments to the Referendum Act, particularly a clause that requires people to present photocopies of their national ID cards when endorsing referendum petitions, Ker said.
A section of the bill that states referendums do not necessarily have to be held concurrently with national elections will also be examined during the first meeting, he said.
The ID requirement has met with opposition from various sectors of the society, including the opposition Kuomintang, due to what they said was a violation of democratic principles.
Ker, however, has argued that idea was to prevent bogus signatures, including the names of dead people, from appearing on referendum petitions.
Nonetheless, the DPP caucus decided to remove the clause and instead to ask the CEC to take steps to deal with the issue of fake signatures. The caucus suggested that the CEC set up systems for identifying and removing fake signatures and for collecting electronic signatures, according to Ker.
Regarding the issue of when referendums should be held, Ker said the DPP caucus will keep the section of the bill that says the vote does not have to take place on the same day as a national election.
This is to prevent a recurrence of the problems of long lines, slow voting, and delayed results that arose last November when 10 referendums were held alongside the local government elections, he said. ●
By Wen Kuei-hsiang and Evelyn Kao