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Digital age evident during polls

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Apr 16,2004
On Thursday during the National Assembly elections, about 15 million subscribers at SK Telecom, the largest mobile service provider in Korea, used their cell phones to place 319 million calls. The figure was about 33 million more than the average for a holiday. “The increase is attributable to the election,” an SK Telecom official said. The power of information technology was illustrated during the election. The first electronic vote counting system was introduced, even though counting in Seoul and Gyeonggi province was slower than expected, and Internet portal sites and wired and wireless telecommunications services updated poll results as they were released. KTF, the second largest cell phone carrier here, said text message traffic on Thursday was 12 percent higher than on other holidays. The voter turnout was nearly 3 percentage points higher than in the Assembly elections in 2000; in Seoul, the increase was about 6 percentage points. “Information technology, such as mobile phones, must be credited for the increase in turnout,” an industry official boasted. The electronic ballot counting system was set up by SK C&C. The system scans paper ballots and tallies them. Safeguards include a system that puts ambiguous ballots aside for scrutiny by poll officials. KT, the nation’s dominant landline telephone carrier, was on watch to ensure that its lines were available for precinct polling stations to transmit results electronically to the National Election Commission’s computers. Internet portal sites updated the election data as the commission released it, and political junkies pounded their keyboards in chat rooms. The downside, though, was the increase in Internet election law violations. Campaign violations on the Net rose from 25 four years ago to 254 in the 2004 campaign. by Chung Sun-gu


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