Japan's Electoral Governance amid the COVID-19 Pandemic: Findings of a mail survey conducted on municipal electoral offices

Author Name KAWAMURA Kazunori (Tohoku University)
Creation Date/NO. November 2022 22-J-040
Research Project Advanced Technology and Democracy: Does new technology help or hurt democracy?
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In Japan, elections continue to be held despite the spread of the new coronavirus. Although infection prevention requires the avoidance of the “three Cs” (Closed spaces with poor ventilation, Crowded places, Close-contact settings such as close-range conversations), these circumstances are likely to occur during the electoral process. Most municipal electoral commissions (ECs) have worked on infection prevention and implemented measures for vulnerable voters when conducting elections. This paper, using a mail survey conducted on municipal electoral offices, examines electoral governance in Japan during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey data shows that 88% of the ECs reviewed the layout of polling stations as a measure to prevent infection in the new Corona disaster. 79% of the ECs called for the use of advance voting in order to avoid congestion. Several ECs also voluntarily implemented measures for vulnerable voters. Special postal ballots for COVID-19 patients were used less frequently. In addition, the study found that most electoral officials were in favor of using digital technology, but were concerned about problems with the equipment and systems.