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CHIBA (Kyodo) The election board in Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture, a town that suffered liquefaction in the March 11 temblor, refused to accept early votes Saturday for the April 10 prefectural assembly election in apparent violation of the law.

The infraction, attributed to a lack of staff amid the disruption caused by the liquefaction, prompted the prefectural election board to issue a nonbinding correction directive under the Local Government Law.

If votes are not cast or counted in the city as scheduled, the two prefectural assembly members from the Urayasu district will see their terms expire April 29 and a by-election will likely be held to fill the vacancies.

Urayasu Mayor Hideki Matsuzaki said Friday the city cannot spare staff to accept and later count ballots because officials are too busy dealing with damaged water mains and sewerage systems affecting thousands of households.

The board said it had planned to accept early votes at three locations in the city but had to drop this plan because of safety concerns.

Three people filed candidacies Friday for the Urayasu assembly poll, in which two seats are up for grabs, and the board said it put together a list of candidates and other items for preparation Saturday without the prospect of collecting early votes.

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