‘Vote-shot’ guideline .. you are so confusing!

Disclaimer: The following is a totally unauthoritative personal translation of an article appeared in <The Hankyoreh> on October 25, 2011, covering the ‘vote-shot’ guideline announced by the National Election Commission (NEC). It’s almost satiric that such a confusing guideline is needed for a country where 80%, 39% of total population in the age range 25 – 64 is high-school and college graduates, respectively. (For details about this statistic, please refer to this news article (in Korean).) Full rights concerning this post stay with the author of original article (in Korean) or <The Hankyoreh>. This post will be scrapped at their request. The original article can be located by the link at the bottom.

NEC announced a guideline for so-called vote-certification shots (vote-shots).

Vote-shots by those involved in the election are also possible, but vote-promoting shots will be punished.

Guideline, too regulation-oriented … some point it is aiming at Won-soon Park campaign camp.

A vote-shot posted by the novelist Oi-soo Lee at the last April 27 by-election.

National Election Commission (NEC) announced a guideline for so-called the ‘vote-certification shot’ (image shot proving someone’s participation in election vote) but is blamed for discouraging people’s participation in election vote since the guideline is too regulation-oriented. Besides, since it is too complicated, people make sarcastic reactions like even King David is confused about the guideline and need to borrow wisdom. Some even point that the guideline is aimed at the mayoral candidate, Won-soon Park, who has been promoting the election vote participation by leading a movement to take vote-shots.

Oi-soo Lee is illegal but Yuna Kim is legal?

According to the guideline announced by NEC on October 24 in a press release, everyone can take vote-shots outside the voting station but not inside it. To the contrary, anyone who is involved in the election is regulated very strictly. For those involved in the election, vote-shots to indicate their participation in election vote are possible but they are not allowed to promote voting. For instance, Oi-soo Lee who is a mentor of the candidate Won-soon Park can post a vote-shot with words “I voted.” in SNS such as Twitter but he cannot put words like “I voted. So you vote, too.” NEC defined candidates, parties, election activist organizations and their leaders, public figures and celebrities who participate in election campaign camps as people involved in the election. But someone like Yuna Kim who is not involved in any election camps can promote election vote.

But, this is even different from the guideline NEC announced in last April. At that time, NEC said that it was allowed for those involved in the election to “promote election vote participation without revealing their party name or candidate name.”

Jin-hee Park is illegal .. then, what about Hong-chul Rho?

On October 24, NEC also announced a detailed guideline for ordinary people’s vote-shots. No one is allowed to leave words like “I voted for whom” when posting his or her vote-shots on internet. You should not take shots with symbols or numbers reminding people of a specific candidate using things like your fingers.

Vote shots by actress Jin-hee Park (left) and entertainer Hong-chul Rho (right)

For instance, actress Jin-hee Park posted a vote-shot on her Twitter with her one thumb up taken at the last regional election. This, according to the current NEC guideline, can be illegal. For Hong-chul Roh who took a vote-shot with his both hands stretched wide pointing to a voting station, the picture can be interpreted to support a specific candidate and hence possibly illegal.

Even if one takes a vote-shot outside the voting station, one should not do it at a place where specific candidate’s election poster is displayed. It is also banned that those involved in the election express their intention or promise to provide property benefits to those who post vote-shots on internet. For this reason, plans to provide book presents to those who post vote-shots on Twitter by professor Kook Cho or novelist Ji-young Gong seem impossible.

Very detailed guideline aiming at Won-soon Park campaign camp

Mentor groups of candidate Won-soon Park suspects the intention of this very detailed guideline. Kook Cho, Professor of Seoul National University told “We suspect that NEC announced this guideline to curb the vote-shot posting movement by mentor groups of candidate Won-soon Park. This actually sounds like I should not take a vote-shot at all. NEC should reveal the reason why they set out this new guideline never heard of before.” in an interview over the phone. The author Ji-young Gong also embittered “It is really a preposterous guideline to push me to disobey it myself. It’s just a comedy.”

Voter’s Freedom Network denounced “The NEC’s version of vote-shot guideline is a measure exceeding its authority to interpret related laws and is actually an act to destabilize the whole legal system” in a press conference held on October 25 morning in front of Seoul Election Commission.

To these accusations, an NEC official said in a phone call with <The Hankyoreh> “The internal guideline regarding vote-shots has been there already but never been made public in detail before. We revealed it this time since there have been so many questions about the range of vote-shots allowed. We don’t have any political intentions about this.”

The following are OX solutions to questions regarding vote-shot guideline NEC announced

1. Can I post vote-shots over Twitter on election day?

= Simple posts of vote-shots by voters with remarks like “Here’s ** voting station.” or “I voted.” are allowed. But, if vote-shots contain any materials suggesting or recommending to vote for specific candidate, voters will be punished.

※ Making symbols that remind viewers of specific candidate using fingers or other things in vote-shots is not allowed either since it is an act of suggesting to vote for that candidate.

2. Can I suggest others to vote for a candidate?

= No election campaign is allowed on the election day. Suggesting or recommending others to vote for a candidate is regarded as an election campaign and similarly banned.
※ Election campaign on the election day is regarded more serious than election campaigns in advance and punished accordingly.
※ According to the Public Official Election Law, Art. 254, Para. 1, anyone who did election campaign on the election day before the end of vote is punished by less than 3-year imprisonment or less than 6M KRW fine.

3. Can I take a vote-shot with a ballot sheet?

= Anyone will be punished to shoot a ballot sheet regardless of whether it is folded or not.

※ Shooting a ballot sheet is banned even without any mark on it.

4. Can I take a vote-shot inside the voting station?

= It is prohibited since it can cause disturbance in the voting station.
= One can take a vote-shot in front of a voting station if it does not cause any disturbance.

5. Can I simply suggest others to vote?

= Ordinary person can suggest others to vote without suggesting / recommending others to vote for / against specific candidate. But, some one or party or organization whose simple suggestion / recommendation can be interpreted to approve / oppose specific candidate cannot do such suggestions either. They can post simple vote-shots.
※ Example: Candidates, parties / organizations and their officials, public figures or celebrities who take part in election camps

6. Can I post vote-shots on Twitter with words like “I voted for **”?

= It is regarded as an election campaign for the candidate and banned.

7. Will I be punished if I post a picture, with words like “Let’s vote”, taken at a place where specific candidate’s election posters are displayed on the election day?

= If specific candidate’s election posters are revealed, it is regarded as an election campaign for that candidate so banned.

8. Will I be punished if I post a picture, with words like “Let’s vote”, taken with a candidate or party representatives or public figures / celebrities that participate in an election camp on the election day?

= It is regarded as an election campaign for that candidate so banned.

9. Will I be punished if I twit my intention or promise to provide material benefits like book/CD presents, discount vouchers for food or performance or free tickets to those who post vote-shots?

= If it is related to specific party or candidate or if it is related to specific election district like people in a candidate’s residential area or people from a candidate’s hometown or if it is specifically for some age range or some group or class, it is banned.

10. What are the things that should be looked out?

= On election day, any form of election campaign is strictly prohibited.
= Any action inside or outside of voting stations that can disturb the voting process is also strictly prohibited.

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