The Korea Herald


NEC secretary general offers to resign over mishandling votes

Kim Se-hwan also faces suspicion of power abuse in helping son land job at NEC

By Ko Jun-tae

Published : March 16, 2022 - 14:44

    • Link copied

National Election Commission Secretary-General Kim Se-hwan (Yonhap) National Election Commission Secretary-General Kim Se-hwan (Yonhap)
A key election watchdog official offered to resign after facing criticism over mismanaging the 20th presidential election held earlier this month.

National Election Commission Secretary-General Kim Se-hwan said in an email to the commission’s employees that he seeks to resign from his post immediately in assuming responsibility for the problems voters experienced during the latest election, the watchdog said Wednesday.

The notice comes after the NEC faced widespread criticism for its lackluster management of voting booths and ballot boxes for COVID-19 patients and voters under quarantine orders during the two-day early-voting period for the presidential election on March 9.

A significant number of early voters raised concerns of possible electoral fraud after they saw their ballots collected in nonofficial ballot boxes or shopping bags instead of regular ballot boxes. No separate ballot boxes were prepared to collect the ballots of infected electors.

Kim also came under fire for accusing some voters of “making a fuss” during its meeting with People Power Party officials after the early-voting period even though problems were apparent at numerous polling stations throughout the country.

He had argued that the NEC should be trusted to assure fair voting and emphasized that everything that had happened at polling stations was done in accordance with the law.

The election watchdog faced public backlash later on election day as polling stations continued to see problems throughout the day, fanning accusations of electoral fraud.

The NEC allowed COVID-19 patients and those in quarantine to use the same voting booths and ballot boxes as other voters to ensure no additional problems would occur on the election day, but irregularities continued to surface at a number of polling stations.

Civic groups have filed complaints against key officials of the election watchdog including Kim for mishandling votes during the early voting. The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office started an investigation into the case Thursday.

Many have called for Kim and NEC Chairman Noh Jeong-hee to resign and take responsibility for the inconveniences and “clear” legal violations that occurred during the election.

Separately, Kim had earlier faced suspicions of abusing his power to help his son successfully land a job at the NEC’s Incheon branch in January and aiding him to earn a promotion in just six months after the job transfer.

The NEC said Kim’s son was not given any privileges during the hiring or promotion processes, adding that they were conducted in accordance to internal standards and procedures.