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Lawsuits filed to nullify Sunday election outcome over vote disparity

Officials count votes following the upper house election at a vote-counting station in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward, on July 21, 2019. (Mainichi/Koichi Yamashita)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Lawyers and local residents filed a series of lawsuits across the country Monday seeking to nullify the results and conduct a do-over of Sunday's upper house election due to vote weight disparities.

Although the overall vote disparity was reduced from 3.08 fold in 2016 to 3.00 after a revised election law took effect to address the issue, the lawsuits will focus on whether the gaps in the value of votes in the electoral districts was unconstitutional.

A group of lawyers headed by Hidetoshi Masunaga and another led by Kuniaki Yamaguchi filed suits at high courts and their branches across the country.

Residents in Hokkaido, Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto and Oita, among other prefectures, also filed lawsuits Monday to high courts seeking a nullification.

Miyagi Prefecture had the largest number of voters per candidate while Fukui Prefecture had the least. The overall disparity slightly shrank after more seats were given to Saitama Prefecture, which had the largest number of voters in the previous election.

In six out of the 16 lawsuits filed after the previous upper house election, high courts ruled vote disparities as constitutional in 6 cases but called the election outcome into question in the remaining 10 cases saying the disparities were "in a state of unconstitutionality" but not in effect unconstitutional or needing to be invalidated.

The Supreme Court ruled the disparities as constitutional because mergers of constituencies to address the issue contributed to a reduction in vote value gaps.

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