Election summary

I wrote a short recap of the election for Taiwan Insight.

I have a lot of work on my desk right now, and I probably won’t write too much more about the overall result. If I do write anything, it will probably be about the referenda. I’m not so interested in the outcomes of these ten votes as in the process. Theoretically, referenda do not necessarily create better policies or deeper democracy. Empirically, referenda tend to favor rich people over poor people. They do not sidestep politicians; they simply empower a different set of political elites. As such, I’m not crazy about referenda in the first place. Ideally, the chaos created by this year’s ten referenda would be an inspiration to abolish the Referendum Law, to forbid holding referenda on the same day as a general election, or, at the very least, to raise the thresholds for proposal and passage. Unfortunately, I’m not confident that this will happen. More likely, politicians will try to “solve” the problem by using “better” technology: someone will decide that digital voting is the way forward. I don’t have the time to go into it now, but this is a TERRIBLE idea. The current low-tech system is fantastic. It is transparent, accurate, fast (when not swamped by numerous referenda), trustworthy, highly resistant to vote rigging, and completely unhackable. When the CEC says that Ko Wen-je won the Taipei mayoral race by 3000 votes out of over 1.4 million cast, no one doubts this. No one doubts that the people who voted all had the right to vote, that they only voted once, that they each made a choice without coercion, and that their preferences were accurately counted and recorded. That is a fucking miracle. Putting a touchscreen voting machine in the middle of it might seem “modern,” but it is not more trustworthy, it might be less accurate (since some people will not know how to use the new machines), and it is almost certainly more prone to breakdowns. It is also much, much more fertile territory for conspiracy theorists as well as actual hackers.

5 Responses to “Election summary”

  1. Shelley E Rigger Says:

    Amen! I would give anything to cast my ballot the way Taiwanese cast theirs. Technology is the enemy of fair, transparent, and credible voting.

  2. Michael Stainton Says:

    Well stated!

  3. cassambito Says:

    Lots of people on Reddit enjoy reading your posts. Hope you’ll have the time and interest to keep writing, even if it’s something short.

    Good luck with your backlog.

  4. channamasala Says:

    One of the few but important ways I differ from your typical leftie Third Force activist type is that I think and have always thought referendums are not a particularly good idea, but if they are going to exist, the new threshold to passage is far too low. And I felt that way before it bit us in the ass.

    And I just cannot imagine why the CEC allowed three referendums (I’m told this is the plural) to go on the ballot with deliberately confusing wording.

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