Early voting held for tsunami evacuees in Kesennuma

Kyodo

The municipal government of Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, on Sunday started visiting temporary housing for those affected by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami with ballot boxes to allow early voting for evacuees prior to the Dec. 16 House of Representatives election.

On the first day, the “circulating voting station” arrived in Ichinoseki, in neighboring Iwate Prefecture, where around 130 people from Kesennuma have taken shelter.

People started voting at 9 a.m. in the snow, with Yasa Sugimoto, 83, saying, “It is really helpful as Kesennuma is far from here.” Sugimoto’s house, located about 1 kilometer away from the seacoast, was destroyed by the tsunami.

The election board of Kesennuma will visit 14 temporary housing sites for early voting, it said.

The system was suggested by an election board official who said that elderly people living in temporary housing without transportation should be enabled to vote.

Around 12,000 of Kesennuma’s population of 70,000 are still living in shelters.