Korean Ambassador to Nigeria, H.E Lee In-Tae (Rtd. Major-General) met with Hon. Mahmood Yakubu, President of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Wednesday, July 1, 2020, to share Korea's experience in managing elections during COVID-19 times and to discuss ways to provide practical support to the next states Edo and Ondo 2020 elections for the government of Nigeria.
Along with facial masks, a brochure on & # 39; Responding to COVID-19 & # 39; it was specially designed and distributed to Nigeria's INEC in order to provide a clear picture of Korea's successful factors in the general elections.
"Nigeria is considered one of the strongest democracies in Africa and, under his leadership, I believe that Nigeria's voting system is growing strong and stable," commented Lee In-Tae during the meeting with the president of INEC.
Amid the outbreak of COVID-19, the Republic of Korea successfully held its 21st general election on April 15. As one of the first countries to hold national elections during the pandemic, many countries have shown a keen interest in Korean election management policy and in several foreign countries. media covered the country's elections. The overall participation was 66.2%, registering the highest in 28 years, with more than 29 million voters at the polling place. The election ended successfully, leaving zero cases of suspicion or new infections by COVID-19, derived from the election.
Referring to the COVID-19 guidelines on preventive measures, the 21st general elections were held under rigorous and systematic voting procedures, administered by the Republic of Korea's National Election Commission (NEC) to block and prevent the spread of COVID- 19 through mutual cooperation. with related agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control in Korea (KCDC) and the Ministry of Interior and Security (MOIS).
The NEC established several measures, including the establishment of voting and counting procedures, disinfection of polling stations and ensuring the suffrage of people in quarantine or with confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Wearing disposable masks and gloves, using hand sanitizers and obtaining a temperature check was mandatory at polling stations. In addition, several stickers and folding belts were used to guide voters to keep at least 1 meter away from each other. Last but not least, separate polling stations have been created for voters with symptoms or high temperature for precautionary measures.
Voters with a temperature above 37.5 ℃ received a special envelope for voting and voted at a temporary polling station. After the vote, if the voter had any symptoms, he was instructed to contact the public health center for the next steps. For patients confirmed with COVID-19, they were eligible to vote at home or visit the special polling stations installed in the facilities where COVID-19 patients were isolated. Quarantined voters were able to vote after the general poll ended at 6 pm, in a temporary voting booth installed in a well-ventilated place. These people were temporarily allowed outside from 5:20 pm to 7:00 pm, to allow themselves to vote and immediately return to their homes later.
During all of these processes, the team was also asked to strictly follow the precautionary guidelines. All personnel should wear masks and gloves at all times and ensure that the total number of voters waiting within the polling station is limited in order to maintain social distance. Unnecessary conversations have been minimized and electoral equipment, including voting booths, marking devices and ballot boxes, has been regularly disinfected.
Meanwhile, voting abroad was carried out on Korean diplomatic missions worldwide and more than 40,000 Korean expatriates voted abroad. Strictly complying with security regulations, Koreans living in Nigeria voted April 1-3 for the Korean Embassy.
Thus, to protect the people's voting rights, the election was expanded by 5 different methods to make voting more accessible. First, voting at home (March 24-28) was provided for people who could not move freely. This allowed them to vote where they lived. Then, foreign voters or sailors on board the ships had the chance to vote abroad (from April 1 to 6) or on board (April 7 to 10). Early voting (April 10-11) was foreseen for voters who were unable to vote on election day. A total of 3,505 early polling stations have been installed across the country and can be accessed without prior registration. Finally, on election day (April 15), 14,330 polling stations were installed and operated from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm.
"The success of the elections in Korea was possible because the Korean people trusted and voluntarily followed the guidelines provided by the government," said Lee In-Tae. "Voting procedures have been informed in advance, so that people feel safe to vote, and Korean officials have continued to provide up-to-date information in a transparent manner, so that people trust the government," he added.
Closing the meeting, the Ambassador concluded by expressing his hope of continuing a close and friendly relationship in the future with INEC.