National

Olympic preparations putting damper on work for Tokyo gubernatorial election

JIJI

Administrative work related to the Tokyo gubernatorial election in July has been affected by preparations for the Summer Olympics starting later that month.

Four of Tokyo’s 23 central wards — Bunkyo, Sumida, Shinagawa and Ota — said they have decided to change ballot-counting facilities for the July 5 election.

Ota Ward started looking last autumn for an alternative site because a local sports center normally used for counting votes will serve as a practice facility for the Brazilian handball team.

The ward has decided to use an industrial building about 3 kilometers from the sports facility. “We’ll use the building for the first time, so we’ll try to make sure that the vote-counting work will be carried out with no mistakes,” an Ota official said.

Sumida Ward has secured a hall adjacent to its main building after it learned last summer that the large gym normally used for counting vote was chosen as an official training venue for Olympic boxing.

“We need to change the layout because the hall is about half the size of the gym,” a Sumida official said, adding that “we also have to review how to send the ballot boxes” to the new facility.

About 6.62 million people voted in the last Tokyo gubernatorial election in 2016.

Counting ballots requires speed and accuracy, since the work must be completed overnight. Suitable venues must be large enough to accommodate a large number of staff workers and be easily accessible so ballot boxes can arrive from voting stations smoothly.

The Olympics are not expected to impact the administration of polling stations since they are set up in relatively small facilities such as elementary school gyms.

Still, some officials are concerned there won’t be a sufficient number of workers to manage polling stations for the upcoming election. For related work, many Tokyo wards and municipalities are expected to hire part-timers via staffing agencies.

“We’re concerned that labor costs could rise owing to manpower shortages caused by the Olympics,” an official at one Tokyo ward said.

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