South Korea gears up to elect the next president in a by-election in May instead of original December after the Constitutional Court ruling on Friday removed President Park Geun-hye before her term ends in February next year, unanimously upholding the legislative charges against her for impeaching her in December.
Under the law, a presidential election must be held within 60 days after president is ousted by an impeachment ruling. The election day is highly likely to be set on May 9 as there are several public holidays in the first week of May including Buddha’s Birthday on May 3 and Children’s Day on May 5. Out of concerns on low voter turnout, the National Election Commission is reluctant to hold the election right before or after a public holiday. If conducted on May 9 as expected, the election day which was previously scheduled on December 20 is brought forward by 286 days.
The nation’s acting president Hwang Kyo-ahn has until March 20 to announce the date of the election as the deadline is 50 days prior to the election. Public officials who wish to run for president should resign until April 9. Those who want to run for the presidency must register on April 15 to 16. As the National Assembly revised the election law to allow offshore residents to cast their votes in this year’s presidential election taking place earlier than its original schedule in the extraordinary session last month, the absentee voting is expected to take place on April 25 to 30.
Early voting that allows voters to cast their ballots in any place prior to the scheduled election day would be held on May 4 to 5. On the election day, the polling hours will be extended by two hours from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. as the election will be a by-election to fill the vacancy of presidency.
By Shin Heon-cheol
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