Facing a tight schedule for this year’s early presidential election, overseas voters are paying more attention to choosing the nation’s leader than ever before.
As of Thursday, more than 14,000 overseas Korean nationals have registered to vote as the registration period is to close on March 30, according to the national election committee.
The Korean Consulate General in Los Angeles identifies a voter before giving him a ballot sheet for the April general election last year. (Yonhap file photo)
In the 2012 presidential election, some 220,000 overseas voters registered out of 2.2 million eligible citizens. Among them, 158,235 citizens cast their ballots.
Thursday’s number cannot serve as a barometer yet, but it reflects a surge in people’s attention to this year’s presidential election, which was brought forward as former President Park Geun-hye was ousted from office in a first since the Constitution-based administration began in 1948 in the nation.
The registration period for overseas voters is much shorter for the upcoming May 9 election, 21 days, starting from March 10. It was 91 days for the 2012 election.
“We cannot compare the numbers now because the registration period is still ongoing. But as we have more than a week left until its close, and diplomatic offices are stepping up their promotion, we expect the figure to go up,” a Foreign Ministry official told The Korea Herald.
The high turnout rate is also because internet registration has been allowed for the first time, the official added. On March 11, some 23,304 overseas Koreans registered as electorate -- seven times higher than the corresponding figure for the last presidential election in 2012, according to the national election committee.
The Korean Consulate General in Sydney, Australia, also revealed Thursday that more than 4,891 Korean national residents have registered as of 3 p.m. on Wednesday, which shows a 43 percent increase compared to the last presidential election.
The election law was recently revised on March 2 to allow overseas voters suffrage in the presidential by-election, which is happening for the first time.
The voting period for overseas voters is slated for April 25-30.
By Jo He-rim (firstname.lastname@example.org