Absentee ballots lost on campus
By Kim Rahn
A group of students at a Busan college were unable to vote in Wednesday’s election as the student leader of their department applied for absentee voting under their names without their consent and so the ballots were discarded.
The Busan Metropolitan City Election Commission said Thursday it is investigating the case that took place at Pukyong National University’s Image Science and Engineering Department.
According to the commission, students of the department received a text message from the unidentified leader at 4:52 p.m. on Monday.
The message said: “To have a station for the absentee vote set up on the campus, I applied for the vote by using your names at my own discretion. The ballot papers were delivered to the department’s administration office, but staff there said they dumped the papers. So you became unable to vote. I apologize for applying without your consent and making you unable to participate in the vote.”
On April 5 and 6 before the voting day, the commission set up the polling station on the campus as more than 2,000 students applied for the absentee vote. The student leader earlier asked the commission to send the ballot papers to the department office.
Absentee voters cast their ballots at designated polling stations with the specially-designed ballot papers. Even if they fail to vote on the absentee voting dates, they can still vote if they bring the papers to the stations of their region on election day.
But if they lose the ballot paper, they can’t vote at all, as their right to vote is regarded as being annulled.
Some students who didn’t receive the text message found this out on Wednesday when they went to the polling station in their region to vote. It is said the number of such “victims” reached 250 in the whole school.
A commission official said they usually check the signatures of an absentee voting application to see if they were forged, but it seems they failed to find the fabrication. “We will investigate the case with police to find out how many names the student leader abused and how many students actually were unable to vote,” the official said.
Meanwhile, unsealed ballot boxes were found in Gangnam B district, and there was an argument on whether to count the ballots in the total of 27 boxes. The counting process was suspended for three hours until the district election commission decided to include them as valid votes and counted them.
As ruling Saenuri Party candidate Kim Jong-hoon won, the rival candidate Chung Dong-young of the Democratic United Party raised suspicions on the fabrication of the ballots in the boxes.