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Some 15,000 adult wards to cast votes in April general elections


Seoul’s election body acknowledged adult wards’ right to vote, paving the way for voters under full guardianship to cast their ballot for the first time in the April 15 parliamentary elections, the Seoul city government said Wednesday.

Seoul Social Welfare Public Interest Law Center, a city-affiliated institution, said it received the Seoul City Election Commission’s authoritative interpretation of the relevant law, recognizing voting rights of some 15,000 people under legal authority of guardians nationwide.

“Just as an inpatient would not be deprived of their voting rights, it is unfair to automatically eliminate adult wards of their rights to vote,” said lawyer Kim Do-hee, who is also head of the Seoul Social Welfare Public Interest Law Center.

The amendment of the Civil Act in 2013 replaced the previous legal system concerning those under legal authority of guardians with the current Adult Guardianship law.

Adults under full guardianship were not granted voting rights under the previous system, sparking controversy surrounding voting rights.

Seoul City Election Commission said the Public Official Election Act does not limit voting rights of adults who are unable to make decisions on their own, including adult wards, as of July 2018.

Though the authoritative interpretation was requested by the city of Seoul, it is largely expected to be applied across the country, a center official said.

The center is to release a guide for guardians to appropriately assist adult wards cast their votes next month.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 patients and people under quarantine can apply to vote from their homes, hospitals and treatment centers in the general elections, according to the National Election Commission.

The Public Official Election Act authorizes voters unable to cast ballots at polling stations due to physical disability or hospitalization to apply to vote from home.

Voters must apply between March 24 and 28 via mail to cast their ballot from their residences, the NEC said.

Patients who test positive for the virus after the registration period are not eligible to vote from home.

By Kim Bo-gyung (