A local court has invalidated the Kaohsiung Mayoral election.

Judges decided that accusations Chen’s camp made regarding Huang Jun-ying (黃俊英), her main rival, on the eve of the election and on the polling day influenced election results.

The district court stressed in a news release that “Chen’s polling-day action of making public a videotape showing a man giving money to passengers on a bus and urging them to vote for Huang could be regarded as a surprise attack against Huang and thus to have made the election unfair.”

“We deem that Chen Chu’s election as mayor should be invalidated because she, as well as her camp, held a press conference to make vote-buying accusations against her rival on polling day, when laws stipulate that no election-related campaigns can be held at that time in the race,” the district court said in the statement.

Huang was not given enough time nor a fair opportunity to defend himself, judges insisted, further emphasizing that the evidence Chen’s camp cited for its accusations against Huang was not strong enough.

However, the district court overruled a second lawsuit by Huang alleging irregularities caused by suspected vote-rigging.

The court decided that although the Central Election Commission, responsible for holding the vote, failed to stop Chen from making vote-buying allegations against Huang and did not fine Chen for making the allegations on polling day, this was not sufficient grounds for ruling that the entire election was held improperly.

I’ve heard that the press conference on the vote buying was held past 10:00 PM, which is against the rules, although Chen Chu is apparently arguing that the law allows presentation of vote buying information at “any time.” How the judges knew the accusations affected the results is a mystery, because there is no good polling on the matter, but I suspect that we’ll see some pro-Blue polls cited.

According to a report in the Taipei Times about the vote buying, KMT candidate Huang’s campaign manager admits that he knew the vote buyer:

Su Wan-chi (蘇萬基), the executive of the KMT mayoral candidate’s campaign team, admitted that he had asked Yang, who also is from Yunlin, to help mobilize support for the candidate. But did Su give Yang NT$60,000 to pay voters to participate in rallies? If he did not, then where did the money come from?

Lin Ping-feng (林平峰), chairman of the Yunlin Association, admitted to prosecutors that the association rented 10 buses for Huang’s election-eve rally, but that it did not include the two buses Yang had organized for his mobilization activities.

However, Su, a former chairman of the Yunlin Association, had already admitted that he asked Yang to mobilize supporters for the rally, and he managed to fax the map of the rally to Ku.

I’m also curious to see whether a court will now invalidate the Taipei county elections, since there were similar last minute accusations of vote buying against DPP candidate Lo in 2005. I have a long revew of vote buying as a tactic in Taiwan here.