April 11 marked the second biggest political event in Korea for the year 2012 - the legislative elections that decide which political party takes the National Assembly. The Undergraduate Student Council, during the buildup to the election, organized a promotional campaign encouraging students to vote. Four different projects were undertaken using a variety of media including posters, pamphlets and the Internet, in an attempt to increase students’ political involvement.
Students were encouraged to change their official residence to Yuseong-gu, which would make them eligible to vote for representatives who could have a direct impact on KAIST and its community. Participants were provided with free giveaways. Students who didn’t wish for an address change were still urged to apply for an absentee vote, which allows voters to vote for candidates running in their hometowns from Daejeon.
Besides promoting increased voting, the Student Council organized a contest where students could submit possible policies regarding KAIST and the Yuseong-gu area, which would then be forwarded to the election candidates themselves.
Also, on the day of the elections the Council posted a summary of Yuseong-gu’s candidates and the campaign commitments of the four leading candidates online for students to refer to when voting. Students who sent in photos of themselves voting were given Burger King coupons.
Out of all the projects, encouraging absentee voting was judged to be the most effective. Though there are no official figures, KAIST’s post office recorded a marked increase in the amount of letters and packages sent during the absentee voting period. In contrast, only 24 students decided to officially change their residence to KAIST, a much lower figure than was estimated. Likewise, the policy contest only had a meager five participants in total. The Student Council accepted that not all the projects were successful, and plan to use what they learned for future projects.
One possible future project is another political awareness campaign during the presidential elections in December.