Part of a continuing series, Lighthouse: Dispatches on Taiwanese Democracy, where we explore how democracy has deepened its roots on this island nation.
Dispatch #2: People Cherish the Vote, Believing that Democratic Politics Can Still Make a Difference
On Election Day, Taiwanese from all walks of life line up to vote in orderly fashion: senior citizens, young urbanites, middle-aged housewives—even Buddhist nuns. People are excited to take part in elections relish the opportunity to fulfill their civic duty. For older Taiwanese who remember life under the KMT’s iron fist, it remains a proud moment to step up and cast a ballot.
This year, 1.29 million new citizens became eligible to vote, reaching the legal voting age of 20 since the last election. Young people represent an important new constituency, as there is immense dissatisfaction with the ruling KMT’s tone-deaf policies. Rather than descending into apathy, Taiwanese youth are extremely motivated to show up at the ballot box. Turnout among those aged 20-29 was 74.5%, several points higher than the national trend of 66.27% among all voters.
As part of the electoral process, people must return to their home counties and districts to vote. In the 48 hours preceding the election, trains and buses throughout the island were packed. It helps that elections in Taiwan are held on a Saturday, not during the regular workweek—still an unfortunate practice in certain other industrialized democracies—which makes it easier for all working citizens to participate.
Photos by Kevin Hsu.
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