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North Koreans 'Vote' In Local Elections... For Pre-Approved Candidates Selected By The Government

20/07/2015 17:01 BST | Updated 20/07/2015 18:59 BST

North Koreans "voted" in staggering numbers during local elections held over the weekend, the regional ballots witnessing a turnout of 99.97 percent. That’s just about everyone. Unfortunately, the voters weren’t able to choose a candidate; there was only one on the ballot that had already been pre-approved by the central government of Kim Jong Un.

But voters were allowed/advised/told to attend local polling stations and place their unmarked papers in a box, an act of political propaganda to validate the beleaguered regime.

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Korean Central News Agency picture taken on July 20, 2015 showing Kim Jong Un visiting a polling station during the elections of deputies to the provincial, city and county people's assemblies in Pyongyang

Voting in North Korea is mandatory for anyone over the age of 17 and, according to defectors, is used as a form of census by authorities to gauge how many citizens have fled the country. Defector Kim Kwang-jin told CNN that not “casting a ballot” in North Korea is seen as treason.

"It is regarded as political offence, so it is taken more seriously than economic crimes," he said. "It means that, politically, someone is against the regime."

Those elected to positions in provincial, city and county People's Assemblies have little power, and are placed to do the bidding of the central government within their respective regions.

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