Korean citizens living overseas have started casting their ballots for Korea’s 21st General Election yesterday. Here’s how the first day of overseas voting went.
Temperature check is a must before entering the voting site. Tokyo has seen a surge of COVID-19 cases recently. To prevent possible infection, blue lines are marked one meter apart on the floor. Koreans living in Tianjin, China traveled all the way to Beijing to cast their ballots.
[Soundbite] PARK IN-HOON(SECRETARY-GENERAL, KOREAN MERCHANTS ASSN IN TIANJIN) : “We will post an article about how we traveled and voted, to let people know they have nothing to worry about, that they should just go and vote.”
The six-day poll by overseas Korean citizens began yesterday. But the National Election Commission decided to halt the voting process at 86 diplomatic offices including New York in the United States, Germany and Canada due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The decision meant some 86-thousand, or almost half of around 171-thousand overseas Koreans, are unable to exercise their voting rights for the April general elections. Korean nationals living in Germany and Canada even filed complaints with the Constitutional Court, claiming that the NEC stopping the voting process at the diplomatic offices violates the Constitution.
[Soundbite] LEE YU-JIN(KOREAN IN BERLIN WHO FILED SUIT) : “We filed a suit with the Constitutional Court because the NEC failed to find out about the local situation before restricting our basic rights and didn’t even attempt to find an alternative.”
There’s a chance that even fewer overseas Koreans may end up taking part in the election. The NEC plans to halt voting activities in places where the COVID-19 infection grows serious enough to make polling impossible even during the overseas voting period.