Associated Press

Taipei, May 11:

Taiwan’s opposition said today a recount from the disputed March presidential election has revealed some new problems - including ballots that were improperly stored or not certified by the voters. But the ruling Democratic Progressive Party insisted that the errors were the result of careless election workers, not voting fraud. “So far there are no signs that election officials have favoured a certain party or rigged votes to favour a party,” DPP official Chung Chia-pin told reporters. The controversy over the March 20 vote began immediately after President Chen Shui-bian squeaked by with a 0.2 per cent victory margin, or about 30,000 votes. He was re-elected one day after being lightly injured in a shooting, which is still unsolved.

Losing candidate Lien Chan has alleged that the vote was marred by irregularities. He called for a recount of the 13 million votes — a demand the president quickly agreed to. Opposition lawmaker Lu Shiow-yen told reporters today that the recount has found suspicious ballots that weren’t properly marked by fingerprint impressions or personal stamps, called chops, that people use to certify their vote. “There were chops that didn’t match with voters’ names,” Lu added, without saying how many ballots were problematic. “Some people used one chop to vote twice. Some chops or fingerprints were unclear. You couldn’t be sure if it was the right person.” But court official Tang Kuang-yi told reporters that some votes for Chen and his runningmate, Vice President Annette Lu, were mishandled.

“One team of judges found 50 ballots for Chen and Lu that were mistakenly put in a stack of ballots” for the rival candidate, Tang said. About 1,600 judges and other court officials were retallying the ballots by hand. The process was expected to be finished just before the planned May 20 presidential inauguration. Officials weren’t providing a daily tally, but they said a total of about 2 million ballots were recounted yesterday. Lien has also filed a lawsuit in the High Court calling for a new election, and his lawyers were eager to find voting irregularities that would bolster their case.