Election rumors abound – Taipei Times

Election rumors abound – Taipei Times

With a week to go before the nine-in-one election, the CEC and fact-checkers are working overtime to keep disinformation at bay

  • By Noah Buchan / Staff Reporter

Does voting while wearing disposable gloves invalidate a ballot?

As the pandemic continues to rage and people use gloves to protect themselves from COVID-19, fake news is spreading that wearing them could invalidate a voter’s ballot for next week’s nine-in-one election.

This is just one bit of disinformation and misinformation circulating on social media and messaging apps over the past week about election integrity that is keeping the Central Election Commission (CEC) and Taiwan’s fact-checkers working overtime.

Photo courtesy of Taiwan FactCheck Center

The CEC says whether a person wears gloves to vote is their personal preference, and therefore legal.

As has become routine, the Internet, social media and communication apps are full of lies that voting machines can be hacked or votes can be changed to favor the ruling party.

“The judiciary is controlled by [ruling] The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), and prosecutors will not investigate fraud [voting machine] software, so opposition parties and candidates must be vigilant and prevent its use,” writes one.

Photo courtesy of Taiwan FactCheck Center

In response, the CEC has released several statements insisting that the machines and software used to count votes are secure and that the vote counting system is built on a closed network and not connected to the Internet.

It added that each polling district has observers from the public, religious groups, major political parties or candidates, as well as officials from the CEC monitoring the vote.

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CEC will also deliver updated information continuously to domestic and foreign media, and at the same time broadcast directly on CEC’s official website. In other words, if there are any shenanigans, there will be plenty of people available to discover it.

Meanwhile, a message circulating on Line urges those planning to vote for Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidates to do so between 2pm and 3pm to avoid ballot tampering by election officials.

The message further claims that ballot boxes will be sealed at exactly 4:00 p.m., regardless of whether voters have already turned up before then and are queuing to vote.

National Chengchi University professor Tsai Chia-hung (蔡佳泓), who is also a researcher at the university’s election study center, Academia Sinica law researcher Su Yen-tu (蘇彥圖), the Taipei City Election Commission and the Central Election Commission all tell Taiwan FactCheck Center that the claims are misinformation. As long as voters arrive at the polling station before 4 p.m., they will be able to cast their vote.

The Taipei Election Commission says that election officials will stand at the end of the line with a sign that reads: “voting line ends” (电影排隊終點).

In related news, a Facebook user posted a message claiming he did not see the flag of the Republic of China (ROC) flying at the presidential office or along Ketagalan Boulevard this past week, only the flag of Nauru, whose president ends a five-day state visit today.

“What kind of flag is this?” the Facebook user wrote, apparently referring to the Nauru flag. “Changing in secret [the ROC flag] without the consent of the legislature, is that not treason?”

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The poster added: “We should arrest them [the DPP] for treason and take it down on November 26. The flag in front of the presidential palace is a fraud, the flag of a bandit gang?

The Taiwan FactCheck Center sent reporters to the Presidential Office and Ketagalan Boulevard to determine the veracity of the posts and found that, as is customary, the Nauru flag and the ROC flag were mixed along the latter and hanging from the former.

Former Foreign Minister Chen Chien-jen (程建人) says that when a foreign head of state visits Taiwan, it is customary to fly that country’s flag at the Presidential Palace and Ketagalan Boulevard. Doing so serves to show respect for the country and to publicize the visit to a domestic audience.

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