Taipei-The Taiwan High Court on Tuesday rejected an appeal by the Kuomintang's (KMT) 2018 Taipei mayoral candidate Ting Shou-chung (???), who was seeking to annul the results of last year's election after his defeat.
The ruling is final and cannot be appealed by Ting, who lost to the incumbent, independent Mayor Ko Wen-je (???), by 3,254 votes, or 0.23 percent, in the election on Nov. 24, 2018.
Four days after the election, Ting requested a recount, but the margin widened, leaving him trailing Ko by 3,567 votes.
Before the results of the recount were released, however, Ting filed a lawsuit to have the election results annulled, claiming irregularities and major flaws in the voting process. On May 10, the suit was dismissed by the Taipei District Court, and Ting later filed an appeal.
In the lawsuit, he claimed that the respondents in the case, the Central Election Commission (CEC) and the Taipei City Election Commission (TCEC), did not set up enough polling stations.
They also allowed voting to continue at some polling stations after the official closing time of 4 p.m. and did not prohibit voters in line from using their cellphones or prevent the media from reporting the vote count at polling stations in the city that had already closed, Ting said.
Those factors may have served to influence voters who were able to check the election results on their phones as they waited in line to cast their ballots, Ting argued.
Voters who cast their ballots after 4 p.m. would have seen Yao Wen-chih (???) of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party lagging far behind the other two candidates and may have decided to vote for Ko to prevent the KMT candidate from winning, Ting said.
However, the Taiwan High Court said Tuesday that Ting's claims of flaws in the voting process failed to meet the requirements for invalidating an election.
Taiwan's laws stipulate that voters already in line at polling stations before the official closing time are allowed to cast their ballots, which means there was no violation of the law in that regard last November, the High Court said in a statement released after its ruling.
The law also stipulates that the votes must be counted and the results announced immediately after the polling stations close, in order to prevent fraud, the court said.
There was no violation of the law by the CEC or TCEC regarding the vote counting process, the presiding judge said in the statement, but added that amendments to the law may be considered in light of technological advancements.
The court also said there are no legal grounds for restricting media reporting on election results after the official closing time or on the use of cellphones by voters waiting in line.
Furthermore, Ting failed to provide evidence that voters in line were checking the results of the Taipei election, the court said.
On the issue of the number of polling stations, the court said there was no evidence that this factor affected the election results.
Commenting on the ruling, Ting said that it showed that those in power can manipulate the voting process and that election bodies do not have to bear any responsibility for violating the law or the Constitution.
That is the greatest danger to Taiwan's current democratic and constitutional system of government, he said, addressing a crowd of supporters.
"Taiwan's democracy is still struggling," Ting said.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Taipei City government said Ko respects the court ruling.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel