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Districts, age groups show turnout disparity

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Published : Aug. 24, 2011 - 22:19

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Voters in Seoul’s three affluent districts ― Seocho, Gangnam and Songpa ― turned out at polling stations in large numbers, but not enough to salvage beleaguered mayor Oh Se-hoon.

At Wednesday’s referendum on free school meals, the three districts reported the largest voter turnouts, with Seocho marking the highest at 36.2 percent. The overall participation rate stood at 25.7 percent.

Only in two districts, Seocho and Gangnam, had a turnout topping 33.3 percent, the required quorum for the vote to be valid.

In last year’s mayoral election, voters in Seocho, Gangnam and Songpa had given overwhelming support to Oh, helping him win at the last minute in a neck-and-neck race with a candidate from the main opposition Democratic Party.

Lowest turnout rates were reported in districts of Geumcheon and Gwanak, where only about 20 percent of eligible voters exercised their voting right.

Wednesday’s referendum also revealed a wide gap in voter turnout between young and old age groups.

While elderly voters, traditionally leaning toward the conservative ruling Grand National Party, started trickling into polling stations from the early hours of the morning, many of the younger generation boycotted the vote.

Overall, voter participation came in at 25.7 percent, way below the required quorum. The referendum was subsequently declared invalid.

The turnout was lower than levels seen in recent elections.

The by-election, held on a working weekday in April this year to select chief of Jung-gu District Office, marked a rate of 31.4 percent. At last year’s local elections held on a public holiday, the voting rate reached 53.9 percent.

By Lee Sun-young (milaya@heraldcorp.com)