By Lee Hyo-sik
The government has tried various methods over the years such as nationwide campaigns with celebrities to encourage voters to cast ballots on election days to little avail.
Here are a couple of alternative approaches of using monetary incentives or fun factors aimed at substantially increasing the voter turnout, which has shown a clear downward trend over decades.
Tour Baksa has been attracting keen public attention after announcing that it will pay its 200 employees 300,000 won ($265) each in special bonus, totaling 60 million won, if they all vote in today’s parliamentary elections.
It is not the first time for Tour Baksa CEO Shin Chang-yeon to offer workers cash incentives for exercising their constitutional right to vote.
Ahead of the Oct. 27 by-elections in 2010, Shin promised to provide 50,000 won each if all employees cast ballots in case they take photos of themselves in front of polling stations as a proof.
But employees might not believe in the cash-for-vote deal in 2010 as many did not go to the polls. As a result, nobody could garner the perk.
Things were different last year when all workers went to the polls in the Oct. 26 by-elections to gain the extra payments.
``Workers are extremely excited about getting 300,000 won in special bonus for casting ballots on the election day because the amount is six times more than last year’s,’’ Tour Baksa spokesman Shim Won-bo said.
``The CEO thinks casting ballots are constitutional obligation for all members of Korean society. The cash bonus is also designed to boost employee morale.’’
Unlike the past, Shim said the company still plans to pay employees bonuses this time around ranging from 50,000 won to 200,000 won even in case a small fraction of the workforce do not vote. ``If only one missed out on voting, employees will still get 200,000 won. But if non-voters exceed four, no bonus will be provided.’’
Similarly, a number of entertainers and other high-profile figures have been encouraging citizens to vote in today’s elections. Among noted, Ahn Cheol-soo, entrepreneur-turned-professor, has released a video clip on Youtube, urging voters, particularly those in their 20s and 30s, to take part in the parliamentary voting.
On Monday, Ahn, a potential presidential candidate in December, uploaded a two-minute and 38-second clip on the social networking service site, titled ``Ahn’s promise to vote.’’
On the clip, Ahn even said he will wear a mini-skirt, and sing and dance if the voter turnout exceeds 70 percent.
수십 년간 정부는 투표율을 올리기 위해서 연예인을 고용해서 투표 캠페인을 해왔다. 그러나 결과는 썩 만족스럽지 못햇다. 그러나 여행 박사라는 여행사는 4.11 총선을 앞두고 선거에 모든 직원 200명의 직원이 전원투표에 참여하면 1인당 30만원 총 6천만을 지급한다고 해 관심을 끌고 있다.
여행박사 신창연 사장의 선거 참여 장려 용돈은 이번이 처음이 아니다. 지난 2010년 재보선, 2011년 서울시장 선거 때에도 전원 참여시 용돈을 지급하겠다는 공약을 내놓은 적이 있다.
처음 시도했던 2010년에는 실패했고, 이어 2011년에는 전원이 참여해 당시의 공약금인 5만원씩 1000만원을 선거 이튿날 사비로 지급했다.
여행박사 직원들은 벌써부터 ‘눈먼 돈’ 30만원이 생겼다고 좋아하고 있다. 지난해 성공 사례가 있고, 공약금 또한 올라갔기 때문이다. 게다가 참여 독려가 본래 취지인 만큼 피치 못한 사정으로 참여하지 못한 직원이 있더라도, 1명 불참시 20만원, 2명 불참시 10만원, 3명 불참시 5만원을 투표 참여자에게 지급한다. 단, 4명 이상 불참시 실패다.
이를 위해 직원들은 투표소 앞에서 찍은 인증샷을 제출해야한다.