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(3rd LD) S. Koreans hit polls on last day of early voting for local elections

All News 14:45 May 28, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES turnout as of 2 p.m. in 2nd para)
By Joo Kyung-don

SEOUL, May 28 (Yonhap) -- South Koreans headed to the polls Saturday on the second and last day of early voting for next week's nationwide local elections and parliamentary by-elections as the ruling and main opposition parties made last-minute pitches for support.

As of 2 p.m., the total turnout came to 16.37 percent, according to the National Election Commission (NEC), the highest for that time in local elections since early voting began in 2014. Of the 44.3 million eligible voters, 7.2 million have cast their ballots.

COVID-19 patients and those in quarantine can participate in early voting from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, after the regular voting hours between 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

A voter casts his ballot in early voting for the June 1 local elections at a polling station in Seoul on May 27, 2022. (Yonhap)

Up for grabs are 17 metropolitan mayors and provincial governors, 226 lower-level council heads, as well as 779 seats in provincial and metropolitan councils and 2,602 in lower-level local councils.

This year's elections have drawn greater attention as seven National Assembly seats are also at stake, with political heavyweights, such as former presidential candidates Lee Jae-myung and Ahn Cheol-soo, throwing their hats into the ring.

Both the ruling People Power Party (PPP) and the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) have been encouraging people to participate in early voting, claiming that high early voting turnout can ensure victory in the June 1 elections.

Many candidates already voted on Friday, with President Yoon Suk-yeol and Prime Minister Han Duck-soo also casting their ballots early.

People wait in line to cast their ballots in early voting for the June 1 local elections at a polling station in Seoul on May 27, 2022. (Yonhap)

The elections come less than a month after President Yoon Suk-yeol took office, with the results expected to boost or weaken the mandate of the new government.

Recent polls showed the PPP taking leads in most big races, except those in the liberal Honam region, the home turf of the DP.

The conservative PPP hopes it can extend the momentum of the presidential election victory and win more than half of 17 gubernatorial and mayor posts.

The DP, which controls a majority in the National Assembly, is looking to recover from the March 9 presidential election defeat and expand its power across the nation to keep the Yoon government in check.

The liberal party, which scored a landslide victory in the 2018 local elections, has been promoting that most incumbent local government heads are from the party and that they should continue their jobs.

kdon@yna.co.kr
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