April 02, 2020 13:23
The government has said guaranteeing the voting rights of the public amid the coronavirus epidemic is a "tough task to tackle." People who are put under 14 days' self-quarantine today cannot go to the polling stations on April 15. This will be the first time citizens will be forced to forgo their constitutionally guaranteed franchise.
Hundreds of people are going into self-quarantine every day. On top of that, all people arriving in Korea from abroad have been told to quarantine themselves for 14 days, which means 5,000 to 6,000 Korean nationals every day. In the end some 100,000 people may not be able to exercise their voting rights in the general election. In theory they can vote from home, but registration for that process expired last week. The government has threatened to punish or expel those who violate self-quarantine rules but has taken no steps to guarantee their franchise.
The chances of coronavirus infection at polling booths cannot be ruled out. But where there is a will, there is a way to prevent it. The National Election Commission says it plans to allow voters with telltale symptoms to cast their ballots in separate places, and similar measures should be considered for people in self-quarantine. There may be many obstacles, but the right to vote is guaranteed by the Constitution. We must keep looking for ways to protect it no matter how Herculean the task may seem to be.
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