Au­thor­i­ties swamped with al­leged Election Law vi­o­la­tions

The Korea Times - - ELECTIONS - By Lee Kyung-min lkm@ko­re­

Law en­force­ment and election au­thor­i­ties con­tin­ued to strug­gle due to a spike in com­plaints over sus­pected or con­firmed Election Law vi­o­la­tions, Wed­nes­day, in­clud­ing the day of lo­cal elec­tions.

Com­plaints ranged from smear cam­paigns, dam­ag­ing cam­paign ma­te­rial as well as shar­ing pho­tos taken in­side polling booths, all of which are crim­i­nal of­fenses sub­ject to pros­e­cu­tion.

A branch of the Na­tional Election Com­mis­sion in (NEC) South Gyeongsang Province, said it filed a com­plaint with the pros­e­cu­tion against a dozen peo­ple in­clud­ing can­di­dates and cam­paign staff over their il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties. Out of a to­tal of 140 sus­pected cases re­ported in the re­gion thus far, NEC of­fi­cials filed crim­i­nal com­plaints against those in­volved in 24 cases, re­ferred five cases to in­ves­tiga­tive au­thor­i­ties and gave 115 oth­ers ver­bal warn­ings.

The of­fi­cials said a can­di­date run­ning for a county head failed to fully dis­close the ex­act amount of his per­sonal wealth on the NEC web­page, an of­fense that car­ries a max­i­mum of five years im­pris­on­ment or a fine of up to 30 mil­lion won ($28,000). In a sep­a­rate com­plaint filed against a cam­paign of­fi­cial who works for a can­di­date run­ning for pro­vin­cial coun­cilor, the NEC said the of­fi­cial pro­vided meals to three vot­ers in the re­gion and paid 600,000 won each to two of them. The NEC said it would con­sider im­pos­ing a fine of up to 50 times the value of the meal pro­vided to the three. An NEC branch in South Je­olla Province said it filed a com­plaint with the pros­e­cu­tion against four cam­paign of­fi­cials for a can­di­date run­ning for Jindo County head for pro­vid­ing 40 vot­ers meals worth over 310,000 won last month. A sim­i­lar com­plaint was filed against two close aides to a can­di­date run­ning for Hampyeong County for pro­vid­ing 35 vot­ers with meals worth nearly 500,000 won.

A Seoul branch of the NEC filed a com­plaint with the Seoul Cen­tral District Prosecutors’ Of­fice against a teacher at a pri­vate high school for post­ing mes­sages pro­mot­ing a lib­eral can­di­date run­ning for the city’s ed­u­ca­tion su­per­in­ten­dent be­tween May 4 and June 9 on Face­book. The teacher in ques­tion wrote 21 post­ings supporting the can­di­date and his ed­u­ca­tional poli­cies and clicked “like” on 83 post­ings on the can­di­date’s Face­book page. NEC said such an act is in vi­o­la­tion of the law which bans both pri­vate and pub­lic school teach­ers from en­gag­ing in any cam­paign­ing ef­forts, pun­ish­able by a prison term of up to three years and a fine of up to 6 mil­lion won.

The NEC branch on Jeju Is­land filed a com­plaint against a man who shared a photo of a bal­lot he took in­side a polling booth on his so­cial net­work­ing site, an of­fense pun­ish­able by a prison term of up to three years and a fine of up to 6 mil­lion won. Tak­ing a photo of the bal­lot or dis­tribut­ing it on­line is a crime, but it is le­gal for a voter to take a selfie out­side or near the polling booth or take a pic­ture of election-stamped “body parts” in what is widely known as a “proof shot,” taken after cast­ing a bal­lot.

The Na­tional Po­lice Agency also started an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into an il­le­gal gam­bling web­site which paid peo­ple ac­cord­ing to the odds on the can­di­dates they wa­gered on.

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