Published online by Cambridge University Press: 14 July 2020
What had prevented the KMT regime from stealing more elections during its heydays and facilitate Taiwan’s transition to democracy under the long-existing voting rules? Whereas the existing literature on electoral authoritarianism, democratization, and electoral malpractice views the integrity of election administration in authoritarian states mainly as a function of what the authoritarian rulers do regime-wise, this chapter looks into the rise and fall of vote rigging in Taiwan and argues that two underappreciated voting arrangements – on-site ballot counting and poll worker selection – make much difference to the development of election administration integrity in Taiwan. The ritualized on-site ballot-counting procedure not only empowers vigilant voters to monitor elections, but also encourages a culture that respects the sanctity of votes. And it certainly helps that the polling stations are staffed with conscientious public servants rather than those who answer only to the authoritarian party-state. In this light, the case of Taiwan highlights the roles of institutional design, cultural norms, and street-level bureaucrats in taming and transforming an authoritarian regime with the rule of law.
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