Tension is building on whether the final voter turnout will reach 80 percent for the first time in 20 years, which would reflect the public’s eagerness for political change.
The figure as of 11 a.m. stood at 19.4 percent, with 8.2 million out of 42.5 million eligible voters having cast their ballots at some 14,000 polling stations nationwide, according to the National Election Commission.
This was lower than the 26.4 percent in the 2012 presidential election, but given the high turnout during the two-day early voting period last week, the tally by the end of the day is expected to be one of the highest ever.
By region, Gangwon Province took the lead with 21.6 percent, followed by North Gyeongsang Province and North Chungcheong Province. Sejong City recorded the lowest, at 16.8 percent. However, Sejong City, where more than a third of the voter pool participated in early voting, is likely to rank higher later in the day.
The early voting turnout from last week stood at 26.06 percent, while the regional figure for Sejong City reached an unprecedented 34.48 percent.
Starting from 1 p.m., the NEC will include early voting results in the tally in order to indicate the total turnout nationwide, which it anticipates to exceed 80 percent.
Since the 2002 presidential election, the nation’s voter turnout has mostly remained in the 60-70 percent range. The top record was 89.2 percent in the 1987 election, when Roh Tae-woo ended up victorious over his liberal rivals.
The results of Tuesday’s race will take shape at around 2-3 a.m. on Wednesday, some six hours after polls close, according to the election watchdog.