Turnout exceeds 65% even during outbreak
According to the National Election Commission (NEC), voter turnout was 65.8 percent as of 7:30 p.m., the highest since 1992. Voters cast ballots from 6 a.m. till 6 p.m. at 14,330 voting stations nationwide to elect 253 district lawmakers and 47 proportional representatives. Nearly 44 million people were eligible to vote in the elections.
A landslide victory for the ruling Democratic Party (DP), in cooperation with its satellite Citizen Party (CP), was forecast in the evening, according to major broadcasters’ analyses.
Three broadcasters KBS, MBC and SBS conducted a joint exit poll and announced their independent analyses at 6:15 p.m. The Korea Election Poll, participated in by the Korean Broadcasters Association and the three broadcasters, conducted the exit poll on 510,000 voters at 2,300 polling stations nationwide from 6 a.m. till 6 p.m. on Wednesday.
KBS projected that the DP-CP alliance would win 155 to 178 seats and the UFP-FKP alliance 107 to 130 seats. SBS said the DP-CP alliance would win 154 to 177 seats and the UFP-FKP alliance 107 to 131 seats.
No exit poll was conducted on early voters as the election law doesn’t allow it. This year, early voter turnout last Friday and Saturday was 26.7 percent, the highest ever, indicating that one out of four voters was excluded in Wednesday’s exit poll.
JTBC, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily, also announced its own forecast that the DP-CP alliance would win 143 to 175 seats while the UFP-FKP alliance would win 101 to 134 seats. It did not use an exit poll but created a new forecasting model with polling company Realmeter and the Institute for Convergence at Sungkyunkwan University, based on various opinion surveys and expert interviews.
It was also Korea’s first national elections since it lowered the voting age to 18. Including 125,000 high school seniors, about 540,000 18-year-old voters were eligible to cast their first-ever general election ballots on Wednesday.
Total results will be finalized this morning, as it will take time to count proportional lawmaker ballots. In 2016, ballot counting took seven hours and 50 minutes, and the NEC believes that it will take longer this time.
Because 35 parties registered for the proportional representation elections, the ballot is 48.1 centimeters (18.9 inches) long, making it impossible to count in automated machines. The NEC said the proportional representation ballots will be counted by hand.
According to the NEC, ballot counting for 253 district lawmakers is scheduled to be completed around 4 a.m. today.
Counting for 47 proportional representation seats is expected to be completed about four hours later. The NEC will award the proportional seats to political parties immediately after the ballots are counted, based on a new system introduced last year.
The NEC said it scheduled a meeting to formalize the proportional representation winners at 5 p.m. today, about three hours later than after the last general elections, taking into account the overall ballot-counting schedule.
BY SER MYO-JA [email@example.com]