By HyunCheon Kim
Translated SeungYeon Woo
While the rate of voter registration for the overseas Korean election is incredibly low; Boston ranked the highest rate throughout the U.S. Currently, 3 days before the registration deadline, the rate of voter registration in Boston has reached 12%, higher than expected. Up to now, the total voter registration rate in the U.S. was 2.74%.
According to the Boston Korean Consulate General, presently, 1,550 out of 12,891 estimated voters in Boston have registered, and if about 300 applicants who still need to submit a copy of their passport are completely registered, then the rate will increase up to 14%.
91% of the total registrants are mostly young Korean students who are very interested in South Korean politics; this trend raised the registration rate to the top in the U.S. Among the 1,550 registrants, 1,410 are overseas Koreans and international students and 140 are permanent residents.
According to, Yang-ho Seo, the official of the Korean National Election Commission, the fact that Boston has a lot of Korean students actually has helped to improve the voter registration rate. During the last few days, even around 200 college students from Rhode Island have been registered.
However, despite the fact that Boston has a relatively high rate, the total rate of the U.S., 2.74%, is well below expectation. Out of the estimated 1 million voters, only 28,268 have registered. The world’s registration rate is 4.4%, which means 99,163 out of about 2,300,000 voters.
Seo said, “I believe that the results are due to the systemic problems of the current overseas election, which values fairness and safety over ease to vote. In order to vote in the election, one first has to visit the office to register as a voter. However, since it’s hard to do in the U.S. where jurisdiction is way too broad, the election committees allow registering at temporary places.” He added, “Also, another obstacle is the fact that permanent residents must visit the office to register since their resident registrations in Korea are cancelled.”
“However, the jurisdiction of the Boston Korean Consulate General is relatively smaller than others’; thus, it was easier to receive registration through canvassing. Also, the cooperation of the Consulate General staff and the National Election Commission, as well as finding a systematic and effective approach both contributed to increasing the registration rate,” said Seo.
Nevertheless, the low global registration rate will mean that “overseas Koreans’ votes would not greatly influence” the general election this coming April. Moreover, it will raise controversy about the effectiveness of the overseas election. Since the registration rate is low, the actual voting rate will be much lower. Some are pointing out that it is wasting Koreans’ tax money.
Currently, the total budget for the overseas election is about $29,300,000. If the voters are roughly100,000, then about $250 of tax money, which is 20 times more than in Korea, is used per vote.
Seo also indicated that, “Discussing about effectiveness of oversea election is too hasty. 100,000 registrants mean a lot when the registration is quite difficult.
The situation of the domestic and overseas elections cannot be the same. Thus, it is unfair to compare and comment about the budgets of the two differently situated elections.”Seo strongly emphasized that the improvement of the application rate will have an important effect on future politics.
The registration deadline is Saturday the 11th and the Boston Korean Consulate General will be accepting final registrations during their business hours (9 A.M.-5 P.M.).
ⓒ 보스톤코리아(http://www.bostonkorea.com), 무단전재 및 재배포 금지