Assembly panel passes bill allowing COVID-19 patients to vote after regular polling closes

SEOUL-- A parliamentary panel on Thursday passed a bill to allow COVID-19 patients and people in quarantine to vote from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on the day of the March 9 presidential election after regular polling closes.

The revision to the Public Official Election Act passed the legislative subcommittee of the National Assembly's special political reform committee.

The ruling and opposition parties had earlier proposed a revision to extend voting hours by three hours until 9 p.m. on March 9 to accommodate COVID-19 patients and those in self-isolation.

But the National Election Commission, the election watchdog, rejected that proposal citing staffing and cost issues, leading the parties to shorten the hours.

The final proposal could be put to a vote as early as later Thursday during a plenary session of the political reform committee.

If it passes, the bill will go through the parliamentary legislation and judiciary committee before being put to a vote at a plenary session of the National Assembly next Monday.

The move comes amid a surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the highly transmissible omicron variant.

President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday called for measures to guarantee the voting rights of COVID-19 patients and people in self-isolation.

Source: Yonhap News Agency