• Kyodo

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Two men with the exact same name were elected Sunday to the municipal assembly in Karatsu, Saga Prefecture.

However, the local election board could not determine which candidate was preferred on about 800 ballots. These votes were apportioned according to the proportion of ballots each candidate received from other voters.

Both men are named Shigeru Aoki and use the same three kanji. One is a 56-year-old incumbent assembly member and the other a 43-year-old challenger.

The election board had asked voters to write either the age or “incumbent” or “challenger” next to the name if voting for either of the two Aokis. There were 32 candidates running for 30 assembly seats.

The message did not get across to everyone. Some ballots were judged invalid for failing to differentiate between the two, including some that said alongside the name, “the better-looking one.” The board decided the phrase defied objective judgment.

Campaign officials for both candidates reported receiving phone calls from voters saying they had cast their ballot for the wrong man, getting the terms “incumbent” and “challenger” mixed up.

Having two candidates with the same name, written with the exact same kanji, in the same local election is regarded as extremely rare.

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