The last time I saw one of my husband’s niece (which was actually last Sunday during his cousin’s wedding), she said that her class learned about the elections in the Philippines. She asked me if it was true that a Filipino had to write down a long list of names during the elections. I said yes, but that was before the computerized elections (which was authored by then Senator Richard Gordon). She went wide-eyed when I told her it usually took months to learn the winners of an election before we had the automated elections last year.
Elections in Korea is pretty different. There are no posters plastered on public properties. Instead, you’ll find banners of the candidates at designated places. Since people (especially in big cities like Seoul) are very busy, the candidates do their campaigns on the street. You’ll see them in their “election trucks” explaining their platform or agenda, while their supporters greet and bow to the passersby. No singing nor dancing. (Well, their supporters would cheer dance for them in some occasions.) Campaign season is only two weeks before the election.
Before the election day, the government sends out “election packets” to the head of the household. Here is how it looks like:
Inside the packet, you’ll find a profile of each candidate highlighting their biography and their agenda. A sheet of paper is also included. Here you’ll find a map to the voting place as well as the list of eligible voters in the family.
The last Korean elections held in Seoul was on October 26th. We had to vote for a mayor and a councilor of our district. The former mayor resigned after a dismal result of a referendum regarding free lunch. I didn’t vote for the former mayor but at least he kept his word that he would resign if he lost the referendum.
The voting precinct opened at 6 o’clock in the morning and closed at 8 o’clock in the evening. I voted at around 4 o’clock in the afternoon after picking up my son from the day care. Once I got inside, I just needed to say my name, show an ID and sign. I was given two sheets of paper: one for the mayor and another for the councilor. It took me about ten seconds to stamp my choices. I then dropped the papers in the box and I was done! It was fast. We learned who won the mayoralty before midnight.
Next year in December, we’ll be voting for a new Korean president. It would be my first time to vote for a president.