Early Voting Record Reaches the Highest Turnout Record Yet

Minjae Kim, Staff Writer

The 21 parliamentary election is only a few days away and coronavirus cases have dropped dramatically, entering the stability zone in South Korea. Unlike other countries, which have either postponed or opened a drive-through election, Korea remained on schedule, enforcing the regular early voting on April 10 to 11 6 a.m-6 p.m. The turnout for the 2020 parliamentary election hit 26.69%, 14.5 percentage points higher than the former election.

The early voting period was restricted only to voters with no symptoms of the coronavirus. Citizens were required to go in the polls with masks and gloves on and temperature checks were held to sort out the eligible. Some asserted that sorting out people with infections is a clear restriction of the right to vote, but according to an anonymous citizen who cast a ballot during the early voting period, “It is a wise action that the government conducted separate voting periods regarding the COVID- 19. I worried that the early voting session will be more crowded and chaotic because of the social distance policy. People do not want to meet or touch each other. That’s why I came here to vote early. To my surprise, citizens stood in line keeping a constant distance between each other, keeping the distancing policy made me proud.”

The record of 26.69% has resulted from many external factors such as the coronavirus and the novel age group. Starting from this election, Korea decided to lower the age group that was allowed to vote. Among the OECD nations, Korea was the only country that had an age limit to 19 in Korean age. On December 27, 2019, the congress passed the amendment about lowering the age limit to 18 in Korean age, where high school students who are born before April 16, 2002, are now allowed to vote.

One anonymous high school student stated, “It would have been better if we were to go to schools and learn about our rights to vote.” It is a shame that students do not know how significant and valuable their rights are. Also, she added her concerns, “Schools should teach us and help us develop our sense of principle and values. It’s a pity that I don’t know who to pick nor what my political values are.”

The 2020 election was a new challenge for both the government and Korean citizens. The virus has not only been an obstacle in our lives but it has enhanced civil order, patience, and consideration between people.