The government defied calls to postpone the parliamentary elections which will put President Moon Jae-in, in office as he enters the final two years of his term which is already grappling with a health crisis caused by a global pandemic.
While South Korea’s electorate has its imbroglio, recent surveys showed growing support for Moon and his liberal party, an endearment which ironically has been caused by COVID19. He is idolized for taking precautionary measures that ranks South Korea as a country with low confirmed cases compared with neighboring states
The National Election Commission said 15.6 million people had voted as of 5 p.m. When combined with the 11.8 million who cast their ballots during early voting or by mail, the overall turnout was at 62.6%, the highest since a 60.6% turnout in the 2004 general election.
Wednesday's voting, which comes amid a slowing virus caseload in South Korea, a stark contrast with countries like the USA that has been forced to seek alternatives through the mail.
Social Distancing and Health Precautions adhered by Voters
To hold the parliamentary elections as scheduled, South Korean officials and health authorities drew up a deliberate set of preventive measures to reduce risks of the virus being transmitted.
Duct tape or stickers marked a meter (3 feet) of social distancing space from nearby streets to ballot booths.
Masked poll workers checked temperatures of arrivals and whisked anyone with a fever or not wearing a mask to separate areas to vote, sanitizing the facilities after they voted. Voters who passed the fever screening got sanitizing gel and disposable plastic gloves before entering booths.
The government also mapped out a voting process for those quarantined in their homes, a number that ballooned after the country began enforcing two-week quarantines on all arrivals from overseas on April 1.
Hospitalized patients were able to cast their votes by mail.
The Health ministry also influenced a huge turnout during the midterm elections by urging the public not to withdraw from their civic duties
“Please do exercise your valuable rights by voting, but also refrain from other gatherings or activities that involve multiple people in confined spaces,” Health Ministry official Yoon Tae-ho said.
South Korea has confirmed more than 10,590 coronavirus cases, including 225 deaths, with the number of new infections decreasing in recent weeks. But there’s concern about rising cases in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, and worries that crowds at parks and on mass transportation may be a sign of a relaxing of social distancing.