Number of invalid proportional votes hits all-time high in last week’s elections: NEC

Last week's general elections had the highest number of invalid proportional representation votes since the system was introduced in 2004, data from the state election watchdog said Monday. A total of 1,309,931 proportional ballots were counted as invalid in Wednesday's general elections, accounting for 4.4 percent of the total, the National Election Commission (NEC) said. The number was higher than the proportional votes received by the New Reform Party of former ruling People Power Party (PPP) leader Lee Jun-seok. Lee's party clinched two proportional representative seats in the general elections. The People Future Party, a satellite party of the PPP, received around 10.4 million votes; the Democratic United Party, a satellite party of the main opposition Democratic Party, won about 7.6 million votes; and former Justice Minister Cho Kuk's Rebuilding Korea Party had approximately 6.9 million votes, according to the NEC data. The number of voided votes had stayed under 1 million before South Korea change d its election system to a semi-mixed member proportional representation in the 2020 elections, where proportional seats are tied to the total share of votes received by each party. Critics have accused major rival parties of abusing the system by creating paper parties competing solely for proportional seats. Before the election rule change, the share of invalid votes was around 1-2 percent of total ballots cast in proportional votes. However, in the 2020 general elections, the share of stray votes doubled to 4.2 percent, while its total number rose to around 1.23 million, the NEC said. Observers attribute the rise in invalid votes to people's disillusionment with the elections, as well as more mistakes made when filling out ballot sheets due to so many parties competing for proportional seats. Source: Yonhap News Agency