Administration looks to let people vote in major train stations, other high-traffic locations

Kyodo

Hoping to raise voter turnout, the Abe administration plans to allow people to cast their ballots at major train stations and commercial complexes, according to a government source.

The administration will try to get the necessary change to the public offices election law by the end of March so it will be in effect for the Upper House election this summer, the source said Monday.

People are currently allowed to vote at only one place, usually a school or public office in the neighborhood where they live, designated by the election council.

The bill would permit setting up “common voting stations” in high-traffic places, such as train and subway stations, shopping centers and other public facilities, in addition to current polling stations.

Information on each voter will be shared via an online network at all voting stations to prevent people from voting more than once in different places, the source said.

The bill will also aim at widening the scope of people who can accompany voters to polling stations from the currently designated “babies” and “others in unavoidable circumstances” to “babies, children, students or others below 18 years old.”

The number of voting places has been on the decline following a series of consolidations due to the falling population, a lack of poll monitors and the financial difficulties faced by many municipalities.

The number of polling stations for the Lower House election in 2014 was down 600 from the general election in 2012.