[EDITORIALS]Exercise your duty and vote

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[EDITORIALS]Exercise your duty and vote

Today is the day for regional elections. It is the day on which we will elect the local leader and regional council members who will take on the “housekeeping” duties of our region for the next four years. Voting will take place between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Regional governments spend half of our taxes. One basic government unit or organization plays with a budget of hundreds of billions to trillions of won. The rights that the local government holds in various areas such as authorizations, permits and regulations are more closely related to our lifestyles. The government also has the authority to appoint the local public servants we meet face to face. The ballots we cast today can change the quality of our lives for the next four years.
Despite these factors, public interest in regional elections continues to drop. Voting rates are lower than for presidential elections or the National Assembly general elections. Voting rates were 68.4 percent for the first regional elections in 1995, but dropped to 52.7 percent in 1998 and 48.9 percent in 2002. This year, some predict that voting rates will remain in the low to mid-40 percent range.
Voting is the start of democracy. If voters are indifferent and incompetent, politics will inevitably be incompetent and corrupt. We complain of various discomforts and moan about illogical policies. Voting can change those policies. If one thinks it doesn’t matter who is elected, how can one have the gall to show dissatisfaction with the policies of regional governments?
Regional elections are a mid-evaluation of central politics and a direct evaluation of the regional government’s performance. We should wisely consider what standards we apply when casting our votes. The most important factors are the candidates’ qualities and abilities. The pamphlets that the National Election Commission distributed contain the profiles and pledges of the candidates. Before we go to the voting box, we should read these materials. Those candidates that are not included in the public press kit may have been left out because of technical faults or because they want to hide something of their past. If you go to the Internet Web sites of the National Election Commission or the JoongAng Ilbo, you can find information on those candidates.
Voting is both a right and a duty of a democratic citizen. The reason election day was designated a temporary national holiday is for people to carry out those duties.
Going on a day trip to enjoy the good weather is not a bad idea, but let’s vote before we leave.
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