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Voting Irregularities Found in Metropolitan, Southern Regions

Voting Irregularities Found in Metropolitan, Southern Regions

Posted October. 30, 2007 03:28,   


In the upcoming presidential election, the sentiment of voters in Seoul and its vicinity will determine the result of the election more than in any previous elections. When comparing the number of voters with those in the 15th and 16th presidential elections, the number of voters in this election has increased by 3,137,590. Among the total number of constituents, those registered in the metropolitan area are continuing to increase, recording 45.5%, 47%, and 48.1% over the past three years. The numbers contrast with the number in the southeastern part of Korea, which have decreased from 28.3% in the 15th presidential election to 27.5% in the 16th presidential election. In the local election of last year, the number of voters was also down, 26.9% of the total constituents. A similar pattern is seen in the southwestern area, with the number of voters falling 11.7%, 11.2%, and 10.7%.

The number of voters in Chungcheong and Gangwon has not changed much compared to the 15th presidential election.

Roh Moo-hyun, the then-Democratic Party presidential candidate, earned 50.9% of the vote in Seoul and its vicinity, while Lee Hoi-chang garnered 44.6%, a 6.3% difference. The difference of votes raked in by these two in the metropolitan area was 720,000, which is bigger than 570,000, the difference in the votes earned in total between the two. Roh won the election because he won the hearts and minds of residents in the metropolitan area.

GNP presidential candidate Lee Myung-bak is leading the approval ratings by a huge margin against any other candidate. Polls conducted by this newspaper on October 17 showed that Lee won 62.5% in Seoul and 57.5% in Incheon and Gyeonggi, far ahead of Chung Dong-young, the United Democratic Party presidential candidate, who currently has 12.4% and 15.7% of the vote in those areas, respectively.

Executive director Kim Jeong-hye of the Korea Research Center said, “Considering that a vast majority of voters live in the Seoul metropolitan area, no candidate will stand a chance unless they come close to Lee in the polls there. It will not be the voter sentiment of Chungcheong Province, but that of the metropolitan area will determine the election result, as the regional politics do not count as much as it did in the past.”

Voter Turnout Matters-

In the last election, the number of constituents in their 30s and 40s stood at 23.6% and 22.6%, respectively, accounting for the majority. Those in their 40s are given greater weight due to their high voter turnout rate compared to the number of voters in the age group.

Voters who are in their teens and 20s will affect the election more than in the previous election in 2002. Nineteen-year-old voters accounted for only 1.7% of the total in 2006, but this year, they number some 610,000. Only about 1 million votes determined the election result in the last presidential election, and this age group will be an important variable. Voter turnout for 19-year-olds was 37.9% last year, which is higher than the 33.8% of those in their 20s.

The voter turnout of those in their 20s will be instrumental in determining the election result. Those in their 20s account for 20.3% of the vote, which is higher than the 14.6% of those in their 50s and the 17.2% of those in their 60s. In the local election last year, however, the other age groups displayed lower voter turnouts than in the local election in 2002, while the turnout rate increased for those in their 20s.

In the presidential election held in 2002, those in their 20s and 30s contributed to the victory of then- candidate Roh Moo-hyun, but polls conducted by this newspaper on October 17 show the former Seoul mayor is more popular among those in their 20s, with a 61.6% approval rating, than among those in their 50s, among whom he has an approval rating of 60.9%. One of the big unknowns is if these high numbers will be maintained in the presidential election.