Steady stream of people voting early for local elections

By Shin Ji-hye
  • Published : May 31, 2014 - 11:58
  • Updated : May 31, 2014 - 11:59

A steady stream of people nationwide headed to polling stations Saturday on the second and last day of the advance voting period for the June 4 local elections, with both parties vigilant over the effects of the larger-than-expected voter turnout.

As of 9 a.m., the turnout of the two-day early voting came to

5.52 percent, according to the National Election Commission. On Friday, 4.75 percent of electorates nationwide, or about 1.96 million people, cast their ballot.

South Korea first adopted the early voting system for a 2013 by-election, and this marks the first time that citizens are allowed to exercise their right to vote in advance for the nationwide local elections.

The early voting from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. allows citizens to vote at any of the country's 3,506 polling stations without registering for an absentee ballot.

The higher-than-expected turnout is expected to serve as a key variable in the elections, with the latest polls showing neck-and-neck races between the rival parties in most regions.

Amid lingering uncertainties about voter sentiment in the wake of last month's deadly sinking of the ferry Sewol that left more than 300 dead or missing, the polls are seen as a mid-term referendum on the President Park Geun-hye administration.

Park, who took office in February 2013, has seen her approval rating drop below 50 percent for the first time in more than a year amid public anger over the government's poor response to the Sewol ferry disaster. Of an estimated 476 people aboard, 288 have been confirmed dead and 16 are still missing. (Yonhap)