The National Election Commission (NEC) of the Republic of Korea has put in place a series of special measures regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) ahead of the 21st National Assembly elections. They are mainly focused on ensuring the safety of voters and polling station staff. We will update this information regularly on this website and on our Facebook page.
A full report is also avaliable for download in the ''News and Notice'' section of our website.
Response Measures Related to Polling Stations
The NEC decided that persons with confirmed cases of COVID-19 would be eligible for home voting under Article 38 (4) of the Public Official Election Act. Voters would have needed to register for home voting between March 24 and 28:
In mid-March the NEC then announced numerous measures to be taken in polling stations to ensure the safety of voters. These include making the wearing of masks at polling stations mandatory, taking temperature checks and providing gloves on entrance to polling stations and regularly disinfecting all voting equipment. In addition it was decided special early voting polling stations will be set up persons with confirmed cases of COVID-19 who were diagnosed after the deadline for applying for home voting on March 28:
On April 8 it was confirmed that eight special early voting polling stationswill be set up persons with confirmed cases of COVID-19 who were diagnosed after the deadline for applying for home voting on March 28. There will be one in Seoul Metropolitan City, one in Daegu Seoul Metropolitan City, one in Gyeonggi Province and four in North Gyeongsang Province and as of April 6 a total of 900 confirmed patients and medical workers will be allowed to vote there. This number will increase or decrease depending on admissions or discharges from the care centers.:
On April 13, after the government relaxed restrictions on the movement of voters in quaratine, the NEC introduced measures to allow those in quarantine to vote safely. Voters in quaratine will be escorted by government officials to the polling station just before the close of voting. They will then be allowed to vote after the close of polling at 6pm at temporary polling booths seperate from other voters. The full details are here:
Counting stations will also be disinfected and a number of rules have been put in place considering counting requires a large number of people to be in a space for a long period. Counting stations will also be disinfected by the day before counting. Hand sanitizer shall be provided at the counting place and the doors handle, counting equipment and other items will be disinfected regularly. Also, the NEC will inform political parties and related persons that anybody who has recently been abroad will be excluded from registering as either counting staff or observers.
Anybody entering a counting station will have their temperature checked and anybody has a fever or respiratory symptoms will be prohibited from entering. Also everyone should wear masks.
Code of Conduct and Voter Information
The NEC Chairperson delivered a message to voters ahead of elections laying out measures for their safety and encouraging citizens to prepare themselves and turnout to vote:
In addition a voter code of conduct has been established. Banners have been placed around the country to inform voters of the measures that will be put in place in polling stations and the information will be posted inside polling stations. The Code of Conduct has five key parts:
1. Voters should wear masks and must have their temperature checked on entry to the polling station. If there is a line to enter, voters should stand one meter apart.
2. Any voter with a temperature over 37.5 degrees or displaying symptoms should follow polling station staff and vote at temporarily installed polling booths.
3. Voters should then wash their hands with hand sanitizer and wear the vinyl gloves provided. Voters should then be ready with their ID.
4. Voters may then enter the polling station and vote. At the identification stage, the voter should either temporarily lower or take off their mask for clear identification.
5. When leaving the polling booth the voters should remove their gloves and place them in the used bin at the exit.
Voters are also being informed through the NEC''s etv, posters, banners and adverts of TV of voting information. Videos include:
Voter Code of Conduct in 20 Seconds:
Come and vote safely during early voting:
Come and vote safely on election day:
The NEC also created a series of videos and images that have been distributed to increase awareness of the special measures in place at polling stations.
Response Measures Regarding Overseas Voting
Unfortunately the NEC decided to suspend overseas voting in 86 diplomatic missions around the world. This unavoidable decision was made after discussions with diplomatic missions and relevant persons and taking into account their opinion that voting may be unsafe or impossible for overseas Koreans due to movement restrictions in certain countries.
However, overseas voting is being held from April 1 to 6 for around 86,000 overseas voters around the world. Similar measures to voting within Korean have been put in place including regular disinfecting and asking voters to wear masks on entry:
After the overseas voter period, it was confirmed that 18 diplomatic missions would count ballots on site. Usually the ballots are sent back to Korea for counting, but due to transport issues caused by the spread of COVID-19, these 18 missions could not return the ballots. This is the first time ballots have been counted at diplomatic missions: