A group of political and financial figures in Taiwan, headed by former Democratic Progressive Party chair Shih Ming-teh, has initiated an unprecedented campaign to allow negative votes in elections. Voting rights in Taiwan remain incomplete, Shih argued Sunday at a function supporting the campaign after the group’s application for the establishment of a non-governmental organization, named Negative Vote Association, was approved by the Ministry of the Interior. The idea of allowing “no” votes in elections, which he described as “very progressive and original,” was first proposed by several “well-known intellectuals with successful careers,” Shih said in answering questions from reporters. “I was sold, and it is a brilliant idea,” he said. Shih said citizens of the Republic of China are endowed with the powers of election, recall, initiative and referendum, but since the ROC was established in 1911, “the only power that has been truly used is that of election.”
“It has not been easy to exercise the powers of recall, initiative and referendum,” Shih said, and even now, the power of election is only “half used.”
He explained that under existing laws, voters can only cast ballots in favor of a candidate in an election and must abstain or cast an invalid ballot if they find neither candidate appealing.
Allowing voters to vote against a person running for office would empower them to use their ballots to express their objection to a candidate and complete the people’s power of election, Shih said.
He also believed that negative votes could help raise voter turnout and limit the election subsidies paid to individual candidates.