Nearly 5 million cast ballots on first day of early voting for presidential election

May 4, 2017

SEOUL, May 4 (Yonhap) — Nearly 5 million South Koreans cast their ballots Thursday in early voting for the upcoming presidential election, the election watchdog said.

According to the National Election Commission (NEC), 4.97 million people cast their ballots at 3,507 polling stations on the first day of the two-day early voting period.

 

The number already neared the 5.13 million votes cast in advance in the latest National Assembly elections held last year.

The number of votes cast so far accounts for 11.7 percent of the 42.4 million people eligible to vote in the presidential election slated for Tuesday, according to the NEC. The two-day early voting period will end at 6 p.m. Friday, following a 12-hour overnight break.

It marked the first time an early voting system was introduced for a presidential election here.

Unlike absentee voting that only allows those likely to be absent on election day to vote in advance, early voting allows any eligible voter to do so regardless of the reason.

It was first introduced in 2014 when 11.5 percent of voters or 20.2 percent of those who actually cast their ballots in the local elections then did so during the early voting period. The ratio slightly increased to 12.19 percent of all voters or 21 percent of all votes cast in the 2016 National Assembly elections, according to the NEC.

NEC officials and local observers believe the early voting system may help raise the overall turnout by about 4 percentage points, citing a similar number of people who failed to cast their ballots in previous presidential elections but said they would have done so had they been allowed to vote in advance.

The last presidential election held in 2012 had a voter turnout rate of 75.8 percent, following 63 percent five years earlier.

Many believe the upcoming election may see a high turnout rate of around or over 80 percent, helped by the first-ever early voting and a two-hour extension in voting hours on election day slated for Tuesday.

The upcoming election marks a rare presidential by-election caused by the March 10 ouster of former President Park Geun-hye over corruption allegations that have also led to her arrest and formal indictment.

Voting hours in by-elections are extended by two hours to 8 p.m. to allow those unable to take the day off to vote after getting off work.

But unlike local and assembly by-elections that elect replacements who only serve the remainder of their predecessors’ terms, the presidential by-election will only mean an early election to fill the now vacant top executive office with the single five-year term of the next chief executive starting immediately following his or her election.

Dozens of people stand in lines at Seoul's Incheon International Airport on May 4, 2017 to cast their ballots in early voting for the upcoming presidential election before embarking on trips over the three-day Children's Day weekend. (Yonhap)Dozens of people stand in lines at Seoul’s Incheon International Airport on May 4, 2017 to cast their ballots in early voting for the upcoming presidential election before embarking on trips over the three-day Children’s Day weekend. (Yonhap)

To help further boost voter turnout, the election commission said it has also set up polling booths at major ports, including the Incheon International Airport and Seoul’s major train stations, in anticipation of people going away on trips over the three-day weekend created by Children’s Day that falls on Friday.

Absentee voting for people with disabilities and those away from the country aboard ships has been held since Monday and was set to end later Thursday. A six-day voting period for voters staying overseas was held late last month.

All votes cast in advance will be kept sealed with those locked overseas to be brought here for official counting following the end of the presidential election on Tuesday, the NEC has said.

The election watchdog is also seeking to boost the turnout rate of Internet-savvy voters, allowing online posts of photographs confirming their participation in the election for the first time.

Previously, posting such photos had been prohibited out of concern over possible election law violations. The NEC said pictures showing actual ballot papers will continue to be banned, along with pictures of other people at polling stations with possible publicity issues.

 

The captured image shows a photo posted by South Korean pop singer BoA on a social network service account to prove her participation in early voting for the upcoming presidential election in Seoul on May 4, 2017, the first day of a two-day voting period for the election slated for May 9, 2017. (Yonhap)The captured image shows a photo posted by South Korean pop singer BoA on a social network service account to prove her participation in early voting for the upcoming presidential election in Seoul on May 4, 2017, the first day of a two-day voting period for the election slated for May 9, 2017. (Yonhap)

Currently, 13 hopefuls are vying for the presidential office after two candidates dropped out of the race.

The latest poll on the presidential election published Wednesday showed Moon Jae-in of the liberal Democratic Party in the lead with 42.4 percent, followed by two runner-ups — Ahn Cheol-soo of the center-left People’s Party and Hong Joon-pyo of the former ruling Liberty Korea Party — who were tied at 18.6 percent.

The other major candidates included Sim Sang-jeung of the progressive Justice Party, who in the latest poll stood in fourth place with 7.3 percent, and Yoo Seong-min of the splinter conservative Bareun Party with 4.9 percent.

bdk@yna.co.kr

 

 

One Comment

  1. custom essay writing service

    May 6, 2017 at 2:04 AM

    Massive post. Really good-looking blog. A lot of blogs, I observe these days don’t really present anything that I’m interested in.but I’m most definitely interest in this one. I am in reality happy with article quality and direction. This post is mark on in helpful how some thought apply to any script point. Thanks a lot for protection enormous things. I am enormously a good deal thankful used designed for this place.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>