[EDITORIALS]Choking election officials

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[EDITORIALS]Choking election officials

Illegal campaign activities for the June 13 local elections have even escalated to acts of violence against election monitoring officials. According to data released Saturday by the National Election Commission, 21 cases of violence or threats against monitors have been reported. According to the commission, a list of the 81 alleged wrongdoers has been turned over to the prosecutors office.

One such case, which occurred Friday in Naju, South Jeolla province, shows how despicably low some of these election participants have gone. In this particular case, the supporters of a certain local council candidate threatened election officials with knives before driving a car straight at them. The election officials were investigating allegations that the supporters had been offering food and drinks to the public, a practice not allowed. These supporters also tried to choke the election officials and broke the camera they were using to collect evidence. The supporters broke one official's nose. Things like this happen only in movies or the mob world.

With the ignorant "I-can-do" mentality of candidates bent on winning at all costs and the cool indifference of voters, the local election is in danger of falling into the chaos of unchecked lawlessness and greed. There are already voices questioning the necessity of local governments. With more than 7,000 reported cases of illegal campaigning, worries over underqualified candidates elected through corruption-ridden campaigns raise questions over the need for local governments. This shameless spread of illegal activities is all the more so because the major political parties have shown themselves to be an active part of the disgusting activities. The Grand National Party has been cited in 815 cases, the Millennium Democratic Party 893 cases and the United Liberal Democrats 175.

The National Election Commission should monitor and report illegalities. Physically attacking election officials, especially, should be heavily punished since it is tantamount to attacking the very foundation of democracy. The prosecutors should investigate allegations of illegal campaigning, arresting those who used violence against election monitors. The wrong belief, that they could get away with planting seeds of unlawfulness in grassroots democracy, should be rooted out.
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