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Villager charged in rigged election
By Li Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-07-29 01:32

A villager in Beijing's Fengtai District who allegedly rigged a grass-roots election will make a first court appearance Thursday.

Court sources say the case is the first of its kind in the district.

Officials believe the 52-year-old villager, surnamed Liu, bought votes for deputy to the People's Congress at township level for 10 yuan (US$1.2) each.

Since the nominated candidate surnamed Shen was not from Liu's village, Liu tried to get voters to choose another person, surnamed Zhang, and promised to pay them, says the bill of indictment.

At the election on February 25, Shen got only 134 votes, less than half of the total possible of 290.

Zhang got 90 and Liu paid more than 300 yuan (US$36) in bribes.

Since nobody got more than half of the votes, no candidate was elected.

Prosecutors say Liu's actions disrupted the elections and violated the Criminal Law.

A decision today at People's Court of Fengtai District was unlikely

Election frauds are a topic of growing concern and some areas are moving to consider legal remedies.

The top legislature of East China's Zhejiang Province is working on legislation to prevent bribes during elections.

Provincial lawmakers on Tuesday deliberated a draft amendment to the rules for villager committee elections promulgated in 1999.

The draft amendment adds stricter requirements on proxy voting and travelling ballot boxes, which are the two major weak links, a local newspaper reported.

The amendment would only allow persons who work or live outside the province to entrust others to vote for them, and a proxy can only vote on behalf of two persons instead of the former three, said the draft amendment.

Meanwhile, travelling ballot boxes can only be used by the elderly, the handicapped and people who are ill and cannot go to the election spot.

Statistics show that in the 2002 villager committee elections, about 42 per cent of the voters in Zhejiang used travelling ballot boxes.

According to a public survey conducted by the Zhejiang Provincial Commission for Discipline Inspecting, bribery in elections ranked second among corruption incidents in rural areas, just following financial mismanagement.

In Zhejiang, an area that has witnessed a booming private sector in the past decade, it is very common to see a lot of villages manipulated by rich people.

According to statistics provided by the Zhejing Provincial Bureau of Civil Affairs, in the 2002 session, about 30 per cent of the winners in villager committee elections were among the higher income bracket. The rate even reached 60 per cent in some well-off areas such as Yiwu, Yongkang, Rui'an and Leqing.

Some members with the Standing Committee of the Zhejiang People's Congress pointed out that among the rich winners, bribery might occur, the Procuratorate Daily reported.

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