UPP faction suspected of rigging electoral roll

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UPP faction suspected of rigging electoral roll

Ahead of the minor opposition Unified Progressive Party’s upcoming chairmanship election, a number of voters on the electoral roll were found to be registered with identical home addresses, raising suspicion that a party faction is attempting to rig the vote.

Starting from today to Friday, the UPP’s leadership election will elect the chairman and heads of the party’s regional chapters. Among the roughly 130,000 members, about 70,000 of them are reportedly dues-paying members with full voting rights to elect chairmen and regional heads. The outcome will be announced on Saturday.

However, Song Jae-yeong, a member in charge of the leadership election for a Gyeonggi chapter head, said Saturday in his statement that a total of 160 party members on the electoral roll have registered to vote with duplicate addresses.

“For the upcoming leadership election, I checked the electoral roll provided by the party’s election committee and found some 160 members who seem like ghost voters,” Song said in his statement. “I made phone calls to their registered addresses and found that 61 of them were registered with a local Chinese restaurant, and another 31 with a local public library or a supermarket.”

Song, who is outside the party’s pro-North and largest faction, is competing with his rival, An Dong-seob, who is a main faction member and the incumbent head of the party’s Gyeonggi regional chapter. An was also one of those who violently disrupted the party’s June 12 Central Steering Committee’s conference by jumping onto the podium and assaulting other members.

Some members are raising suspicions that the largest faction is attempting false address registration, deliberately moving their members’ addresses to certain areas in order to win regional elections.

A smaller faction member told the JoongAng Ilbo that they experienced similar doings when they were members of the Democratic Labor Party. Many of the UPP’s largest faction were once members of the DLP.

“When we were members of the DLP, the largest faction also committed false address registration, moving about 20 or 30 members to other places,” a non-mainstream member told the JoongAng Ilbo. “When we raised an objection to it, they argued that the members indeed lived there.

“Even struggling with the primary rigging scandal, suspicions still remain about the electoral roll, which means the largest faction is ignoring transparency or a fair election.”

Song’s rival, An, said that he trusts the electoral roll.

“The electoral roll has been listed by the party’s Central Steering Committee, following the National Election Commission’s rule, and I think we can simply accept it,” An told the JoongAng Ilbo.

The competition for the chairman is expected to be neck-and-neck between the two candidates, Kang Ki-kab, the incumbent leader of the emergency council led by a smaller faction, and Gang Byeong-gi, a member of the largest faction.

Even after a new leader is elected, concerns are mounting that the bi-factional fights between members will continue or get even worse, because of the two candidates’ different approaches in dealing with the party’s reform plans and other sensitive social issues.

By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr ]

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