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(2nd LD) S. Korea halts overseas election process in U.S., 24 other nations

All News 14:31 March 30, 2020

(ATTN: REWRITES headline, lead; UPDATES with more info throughout)

SEOUL, March 30 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's election watchdog said Monday it will stop overseas election affairs for the April polls in 41 diplomatic missions of 25 nations, including the United States, over the coronavirus pandemic.

South Korea will halt the polling affairs for the April 15 parliamentary elections in the U.S., Canada and 23 other countries until April 6, according to the National Election Commission (NEC).

The move followed last week's decision to suspend the election process in Italy and 16 other countries and territories over the COVID-19 pandemic.

The total affected diplomatic missions reached 65 in 40 countries, the NEC said. An estimated 80,500 voters will not be able to cast their ballots, accounting for 47 percent of eligible overseas voters.

The NEC said it has made the decision on safety concerns for Korean residents as more countries have strengthened mobility restrictions or imposed lockdowns.

On March 17, the watchdog decided to stop election-related affairs in Wuhan, the Chinese city under lockdown where the new coronavirus emerged in December.

Overseas voters in countries that are not affected by the measures will cast their ballots in their host countries between April 1 and 6.

The watchdog made the decision prioritizing voter safety, but some overseas Koreans expressed regret that they will not be able to exercise the right to vote.

Some Korean residents in Germany voiced complaints at the decision, staging social media campaigns for the Korean government to allow them to vote. Others claimed they should be allowed to vote via mail.

(2nd LD) S. Korea halts overseas election process in U.S., 24 other nations - 1


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