The tentative voter turnout at this year’s local and gubernatorial elections is 60.2 percent, recording the second highest figure ever for local elections, the election watchdog said on Wednesday.
As of 10:45 p.m. on Wednesday, about 22.7 percent of the ballots were counted. If the figure surpasses 60 percent, it will be the first time the turnout rate has passed the 60 percent mark in 23 years. The highest turnout rate was recorded in the very first local and gubernatorial election in 1995, at 68.4 percent.
Counting ballots (Yonhap)
Among the 17 gubernatorial regions, South Jeolla Province tentatively showed the highest turnout at 69.3 percent, followed by Jeju Province at 65.9 percent and South Gyeongsang Province at 65.3 percent. Incheon is expected to see the lowest figure at 55.3 percent, while Seoul and Gyeonggi Province, the nation’s metropolitan areas showed 59.9 percent and 57.8 percent tentative voter turnout, respectively.
The country also conducted by-elections on Wednesday to fill 12 vacant seats at the National Assembly. The tentative voter turnout rate was 60.7 percent, and 21.07 percent of the voters cast ballots in advance voting.
The NEC suggested this year’s high turnout rate was due to the advance voting system which allowed voting ahead of Wednesday. In the two-day advance voting on Friday and Saturday, 20.14 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots. The system was first introduced for by-elections in April 2013.
The turnout rate in past local elections stayed in the 50 percent range. The voter turnout was 52.7 percent in 1998, 48.8 percent in 2002, 51.6 percent in 2006 and 54.5 percent in 2010. In the last election in 2014, the figure stood at 56.8 percent.
Wednesday’s election determined 4,016 local administrative, legislative and educational posts, including 17 metropolitan mayors and provincial governors.
Voting began at 6 a.m. in 14,134 polling stations across the nation, and ended at 6 p.m.
By Jo He-rim (firstname.lastname@example.org