Record overseas voters register for presidential election

March 31, 2017
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A number of expat South Koreans visit the South Korean consulate in Los Angeles on March 30, 2017 (U.S. time), the last day of voter registration for overseas South Koreans in South Korea’s upcoming presidential election. (Yonhap)

SEOUL, March 31 (Yonhap) — A record number of overseas South Korean nationals have come forth to take part in the upcoming presidential election, the election watchdog said Friday.

An initial tally showed 297,919 overseas voters registered for the May 9 presidential election, according to the National Election Commission (NEC). The 20-day registration period came to an end Thursday.

The number accounts for 15.1 percent of some 1.97 million overseas South Koreans eligible to take part in presidential elections.

It marks a 33.3 percent spike from 222,389 overseas voters who had registered to vote in the last presidential election held five years earlier, the election watchdog said.

Observers here noted the record number of overseas voters signing up for the upcoming presidential election indicated their keen interest in the election prompted by the recent ouster of President Park Geun-hye over corruption allegations.

The former president was placed under detention Friday after a Seoul district court issued a warrant for her arrest, citing the risk of her destroying evidence regarding her 13 criminal charges that include corruption, coercion and abuse of power.

Those who have registered to vote will be allowed to do so in their host countries between April 25 and April 30.

Their sealed ballots will be shipped to South Korea by May 9 for official counting that will begin immediately after the one-day vote ends at 8 p.m. the same day (local time), according to the NEC.

In the 2012 presidential election, 158,196 overseas voters actually cast their ballots.

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