UPP halts its leadership vote due to system error

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UPP halts its leadership vote due to system error

The minor opposition Unified Progressive Party, which is struggling in the aftermath of its March proportional primary debacle, yesterday halted its ongoing leadership election due to a malfunction of its online voting system.

“We have had some problems with the servers processing online votes, so we determined to temporarily halt voting,” Yun Sang-hwa, a member of the party’s central election committee, said on the UPP’s Web site. “We are discussing further measures.”

The UPP said that they found errors with the online voting server at around midnight yesterday and halted the system at around 1 a.m.

The party’s election committee said that the database of ballot counting has been damaged and some voting records are missing.

If they can’t fully recover the lost ballots, they are expected to nullify the entire election and restart it.

The five-day election, scheduled from Monday to Friday, had recorded 19.55 percent of the total available votes as of 10 a.m. on Tuesday. The reason for the error hasn’t been verified yet. “Under the National Election Commission’s monitoring, we will have a discussion with experts and technicians and analyze reasons for the malfunction,” Lee Jeong-mi, the party committee’s spokeswoman said at a briefing.

The UPP hired a Seoul-based telecommunication company called the Smile Serve for online voting management, but the company said in a statement yesterday that, “We judge that there are no problems with our hardware or the server that we lent to the party.”

The company also managed the allegedly rigged proportional primary in March. Prosecutors raided the company’s office in May and confiscated materials for the vote-rigging scandal.

The party’s special investigation team into the rigging scandal Tuesday released its second report on the March primary, saying that the primary was apparently manipulated, making the same conclusion as the first probe.

Representatives Lee Seok-gi and Kim Jae-yeon, who are among the four members refusing to forfeit their candidacies earned in the primary, publicly promised to “take responsibility” if the second report said the primary was rigged.

“During the online voting, in which about 90 percent of voters cast ballots, we found about 15,000 members had voted through duplicate ID addresses,” the report read.

“Furthermore, any ordinary members were able to access the real-time data that shows names and personal information of voters who hadn’t cast ballots yet, by simply logging on with the IDs and password of the administrator,” it added.

“A total of 10 party members downloaded the voting data during the election.”

At polling stations nationwide, the report said that about 32.4 percent of all ballots at the station are suspected to be rigged.

“The proportional primary was an election with seriously damaged procedures and principles,” the report concluded. “It’s also a poor election that neglected management, online voting and polling stations.”

Still, the largest faction members denied the second report as well.

“The special probe team railroaded the biased and poor report,” Kim Mi-hwa, a main faction member said at a press meeting on Tuesday. “They simply targeted lawmaker Lee Seok-gi. It’s enough to assign responsibility [for the primary] by having the former co-chairs resign.”

The party’s National Steering Committee held a meeting Tuesday and 27 out of the entire 31 members agreed to adopt the report as an officially verified document.

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