S. Korea votes to decide next president (59.9% voter turnout as of 2 p.m.)
May 9, 2017
A woman waits to enter a polling booth at Seoul Station on Thursday, the last day of early voting. Regular voting began at 13,964 polling stations from 6 a.m. oting will continue until 8 p.m. under tight security to ensure a fair and transparent presidential election.
/ Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul

South Korean public began to vote on Tuesday to decide the nation's new leader, who will face a range of daunting challenges on multiple fronts, from the North Korean crisis to entangled ties with the United States and China, to a stack of conundrums in domestic politics and the economy.

A total of 13,964 polling stations opened from 6 a.m. and will be available until 8 p.m. under tight security to ensure a fair and transparent presidential election.

Today is a temporary national holiday, which will help boost voter turnout. The final turnout is expected to be higher than for previous presidential elections, given the “election fever” evidenced by last week's two-day early voting in which a record 11.07 million people, or 26.1% of eligible voters, cast ballots.

Thirteen candidates are running for the nation's top job with the liberal Democratic Party's Moon Jae-in holding a firm lead in the latest opinion polls. Ho'ng Jun-pyo of the conservative Liberty Korea Party and Ahn Cheol-soo of the center-left People's Party are vying for runner-up.

The mostly likely winner is Moon, 64, a human rights lawyer-turned-politician, who has mustered support with promises of a sweeping crackdown on deep-seated corruption and injustice.

His campaign pledges appealed more than those of his rivals because the snap presidential election came with a still vivid memory of the sprawling corruption scandal involving President Park Geun-hye and her close friend Choi Soon-sil, which led to Park's historic dismissal by the Constitutional Court on March 10.

But projection is projection -- nothing is certain until the last ballot is counted.

At 8 p.m., three major broadcasters -- KBS, MBC and SBS -- will announce the result of their joint exit poll, indicating the overall shape of the race. More details will be added as votes are counted.

The National Election Commission said it would be possible to project the winner at around 2-3 a.m. Wednesday with about 60-65% of ballots counted.

The commission plans to review the final result between 8-10 a.m. Wednesday. If the commission finds nothing wrong with the outcome, it will declare an official winner. With the declaration, the victor will be immediately sworn in, without the luxury of a transition period.

Source:The Korea Times

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