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A total of 145 people have been arrested for suspected election law violations in connection with the July 29 House of Councilors poll, the National Police Agency said Wednesday.

Eighty-six of those arrested are suspected of buying votes, 26 of impeding a free election and 13 of using their status as a government employee to campaign, agency officials said.

Police nationwide have searched 497 locations, mainly election campaign offices, for evidence of violations since polling day.

The number of arrests in the 10 days following the latest Upper House election is up from 61 in the corresponding period after the July 1998 Upper House poll.

Seventy-two people were arrested this time in connection with candidates who ran in the proportional representation section, up from 14 in the 1998 election.

Police attributed the increase to the new method introduced for voting in the proportional representation section of the poll.

The new system allows voters to cast ballots either for a candidate or a political party. Under the previous system, voters could only choose a party.

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