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Kochi Pref. voters void ballots in apparent protest against lack of local candidates

Workers count votes for the House of Councillors election in Kochi on July 10, 2016. (Mainichi)

Many residents of Kochi Prefecture voided their ballots for the July 10 House of Councillors election after their constituency's merger with neighboring Tokushima Prefecture left the region with no local candidates.

The ratio of invalid ballots in the merged Kochi-Tokushima constituency was 1.7 times higher than in the previous election, jumping from 3.55 percent of votes cast to 6.14 percent, and it is possible many voters spoiled their ballots in protest. The number of ballots cast with no candidate's name was up by nearly 200 percent.

According to the Kochi city election commission, voters had written comments such as "I oppose the merger of districts" on some of the spoiled ballots.

A 43-year-old housewife in the city of Kochi told the Mainichi Shimbun, "I didn't see any of the candidates even once during the campaign. I didn't know what their positions were."

A member of the Kochi Prefectural Assembly who shifted their support from the Liberal Democratic Party candidate to joint opposition candidate So Onishi after the passage of controversial security legislation and other actions by the ruling parties, said, "The fact that all the candidates were from Tokushima Prefecture led to voided votes. It is really too bad."

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