A 52-year-old man in Beijing's Fengtai District has been charged
with buying votes when a fellow villager ran for a seat on the
township People's Congress. He allegedly paid 10 yuan (US$1.20) per
The defendant, surnamed Liu, is making his first court
Sources at the People's Court of Fengtai District say the case
is the first of its kind in the district. A decision is not likely
to be handed down today.
Since the nominated candidate, surnamed Shen, was not from Liu's
village, Liu tried to get voters to choose another person, surnamed
Zhang. He promised to pay them for their votes, according to the
bill of indictment.
At the election on February 25, Shen got only 134 votes, fewer
than half of the total possible of 290. Zhang got 90 and Liu paid
more than 300 yuan (US$36) in bribes.
Since no candidate got more than half of the votes, no one was
Prosecutors say Liu's actions disrupted the elections and
violated the Criminal Law.
Election frauds are a topic of growing concern and some areas
are considering legal remedies.
On Tuesday, the top legislature of east China's Zhejiang
Province deliberated a draft amendment to the village committee
election regulations originally promulgated in 1999. The amendment
adds stricter requirements on proxy voting and portable ballot
boxes, which are the two main weak links, a local newspaper
The amendment would only allow persons who work or live outside
the province to entrust others to vote for them. Proxies would be
limited to voting on behalf of two persons instead of the existing
Only the elderly, the handicapped and people who are ill and
cannot go to the polling place would be permitted to use portable
In the 2002 village committee elections, about 42 percent of the
voters in Zhejiang used portable ballot boxes.
According to a public survey conducted by the Zhejiang
Provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection, election bribery
ranked second among incidents of corruption in rural areas,
following only financial mismanagement.
Zhejiang's private sector has seen a boom in the past decade,
and it is very common for villages to be manipulated by wealthy
According to the Zhejiang Provincial Bureau of Civil Affairs,
about 30 percent of the winners in village committee elections in
2002 were in the higher income bracket. The rate reached as high as
60 percent in some of the more well-off areas.
(China Daily July 29, 2004)