A left-wing minor party leader issued a public apology Thursday for suspected vote rigging and other irregularities in the party’s selection of candidates for last month’s parliamentary elections.
Lee Jung-hee, one of four co-leaders of the Unified Progressive Party (UPP), said in a meeting with party officials she “would assume political and moral responsibility” for mismanaging online and offline ballots.
The party, which was created just five months ago through the merger of left-leaning political parties, held internal votes to select its proportional representation candidates for the April 11 elections.
Lee said those responsible for the incident should be held accountable, though she claimed she was unaware at the time of the irregularities.
The party announced Wednesday after a two-week internal investigation that a computer programme used for its internal online ballots had been changed several times and technical errors occurred, leading to the suspension of votes and undermining the credibility of the online ballots.
The party also admitted votes had been cast en masse through a single Internet Protocol address, an indication of voting irregularities. The IP address, the online equivalent of a street address or a phone number, should be different for each voter.
Rhyu Si-min, another co-leader of the party, offered a similar apology during the same party meeting and vowed the party would show a responsible attitude. He did not elaborate further.
Lee, Rhyu and two other co-leaders vowed to reform the party and restore its moral integrity. However, they urged prosecutors not to launch an investigation into their party’s internal scandal, warning that any probe would be seen as politically motivated.
A spokesman for the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office was not immediately available for comment.
The National Election Commission, South Korea’s election watchdog, said Wednesday the voting irregularities do not affect the outcome of the April elections as they were an internal party matter.
Seven UPP candidates were elected through direct elections and six others won parliamentary seats under the proportional representation system that allocates seats to parties according to the numbers of votes they receive. Those seats account for just a fraction of the 300-member parliament.