The Central Election Commission (CEC) announced Thursday that it would relaunch the Chiayi mayoral election after the death of independent candidate Huang Shao-tsung (黃紹聰) Wednesday prompted officials to stop the election.
The announcement came one day after the CEC stopped the election based on Article 30 of the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act, dubbed the “anti-assassination clause.” This requires the CEC to terminate a mayoral or county magistrate election and restart the electoral process if a candidate dies at least one day before election day.
The decision was made during a meeting attended by CEC officials and virtually by Chiayi City Election Committee representatives, committee Director-General Huang Chun-ming (黃俊銘) told CNA.
The CEC announced after the meeting that registration would be open for candidates from Nov. 8 to Nov. 12, and ballot numbers would be drawn on Nov. 29, with the election now scheduled for Dec. 18.
Huang was found lying unconscious on a bathroom floor in his home early Wednesday. The 72-year-old died despite receiving emergency treatment at a hospital, which later announced that the cause of death was a heart attack.
The decision was condemned by Chiayi Mayor Huang Min-hui (黃敏惠) of the Kuomintang (KMT), who is seeking re-election, and her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) challenger Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋), who both argued that the delay would cost more in terms of labor and resources.
Calling the decision “regrettable,” Huang, who according to two polls is the front-runner in what is essentially a two-horse race, said that a separate election for Chiayi City would require about 3,500 election workers, which would be hard to find.
She also expressed concern that decoupling the election from the Nov. 26 nine-in-one elections and a referendum on lowering the voting age from 20 to 18, could affect voter turnout for the referendum.
Asked whether she was worried about becoming the DPP’s sole focus after Nov. 26, she said that many of her supporters were concerned, but she is taking the situation in her stride.
Meanwhile, Lee said that he would fight until the end and campaign for DPP Chiayi city councilor candidates in the run-up to Dec. 18.
Separately on Thursday, the KMT legislative caucus held a news conference at the Legislature to urge the CEC not to change the original election date.
KMT Legislator Tseng Ming-chung (曾銘宗) criticized the rescheduling of the election as election interference by the DPP.
KMT Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) said the act also stipulates that candidate registration should take 20 days with candidates given a window of at least five days to register. There are still 23 days until Nov. 26, so there is no need to reschedule the Chiayi mayoral election, he said.
KMT Legislator Chen I-hsin (陳以信) said postponing the election could benefit certain candidates and called on the CEC to uphold administrative neutrality.
Meanwhile, the CEC defended its decision, saying that the new date for the Chiayi election is not particularly late, considering that candidate rosters and voting notices have to be re-printed, ballot numbers redrawn, and platform presentations rescheduled.
CEC Deputy Chairman Chen Chao-chien (陳朝建) said the Chiayi mayoral election is similar in scale to a legislative by-election, and that legislative by-elections in recent years had taken between 43 days to 86 days from their announcements to election day.
The rescheduling of the Chiayi mayoral race will not affect the mayor-elect’s inauguration date of Dec, 25, he said.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel