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Korea works to boost turnout, inform voters

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선거투표율 독려하는 방법들 More than 80 percent of the Korean population is expected to vote in the presidential election... a level not seen in two decades.For more on how voters have been encouraged to hit the polls... and what needs to be done to make those ballots count.... Oh Soo-young reports. People waiting for a train or simply passing through Seoul Station... ahead of the presidential election on Tuesday... were invited to kill time by walking through the voting procedure. "This mock voting booth is just one of the gimmicks that Korea's National Election Commission has initiated to encourage voters to cast their ballots."Other get-out-the-vote campaigns featured celebrity endorsements and encouraged the public to post selfies on social media.And this year, for the first time, Koreans have been allowed to upload photos of themselves gesturing or indicating the number of their preferred candidate. "In the past, we simply reminded people to vote, but nowadays, it's all about communicating and building an understanding with voters through participation. So we've initiated street concerts, and open discussions for citizens." Voter turnout in both the presidential and parliamentary elections over the last two decades has amounted to some 63 percent.While the presidential election turnout... is above the OECD average of around 70 percent,... there's still room for improvement. "The turnout in elections differs depending on what kinds of issues are at hand that year. Also, Korea has some form of election every year so the level of interest can falter, compared to some European countries, where there is just one general election every four years." To increase voter turnout,...There are currently 26 countries that enforce mandatory voting laws with varying penalties for those who don't cast their ballots. . "When mandatory voting is enforced, there's a difference of 10 to 15 percentage point difference in the turnout rate. Another interesting thing is that countries that have switched from compulsory to voluntary voting, turnout has dropped sharply. But I think in most countries without compulsory voting, if you were to introduce the system, many people would become upset. For example in the United States, many people see the right not to vote as the freedom of expression." "Korea's National Election Commission decided not to adopt the mandatory system in the early 2000s. For the 18th parliamentary election, we tried offering incentives. For example, countries like Japan offer discounts on shopping and movie tickets. But that wasn't very successful here." Most experts believe the turnout rate in Korea can be boosted without mandatory voting or incentives.Unlike countries such as Australia or the Netherlands, where citizens must register to vote, Koreans can head straight to the polls. Also, the early voting system -- launched in 2013-- has so far proven to have lifted turnout. "We should add more days to the early voting period beyond the current two we have now and extend the voting hours. We could also introduce electronic or online voting, allowing many more citizens to participate at a lower cost."But more than the number of votes, experts say it's the quality of the vote that matters most. "There are lots of democracies which have fairly high voter turnout but the quality of government is not particularly good. There is even some evidence to believe higher turnout actually makes things worse because you get more people voting who have low levels of political knowledge." "In Germany, where the turnout is near 80 percent without mandatory voting,... the value of politics and democracy,... and the notion that a single vote contributes to making government better,... is embedded in public education. That's something Korea should consider encouraging."Experts say increasing the number of informed voters,... through greater accessibility and better civic education,... is what counts most toward creating a stronger democracy.Oh Soo-young, Arirang News.Visit ‘Arirang News’ Official PagesFacebook(NEWS): http://www.facebook.com/newsarirangHomepage: http://www.arirang.comFacebook: http://www.facebook.com/arirangtvTwitter: http://twitter.com/arirangworldInstagram: http://instagram.com/arirangworld


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