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Heat could make August 30th voting potential health hazard

Date Posted: 2009-08-13

Hundreds of thousands are expected to head for polls across Okinawa August 30th to cast their ballots in the House of Representatives election.

While there’s plenty of rhetoric heating up the campaign, health officials are warning Okinawa’s summer heat could prove to be problems for many expected to flock to dozens of polling places without air conditioning. This month’s election is the first ever to be conducted in the summer, when temperatures soar and public buildings used for polling places are without capabilities to keep the electorate cool.

There are 15 candidates vying for Diet Lower House seats, spread across four election districts. On top of that, two more politicians could get elected from proportional representation balloting. With the official election registration date only days away—August 18th—campaigns are already in full swing, with candidates pounding the pavement trying to meet as many potential voters as possible.

As they wrap up some hotly contested campaigning, voters will head for 317 voting sites on August 30th, and government officials are already worried about possible health problems encountered by citizens. The Okinawa Prefecture Election Administration Committee is calling the election timing a headache, because it’s too hot in offices, and most public buildings don’t have air conditioning. The committee is issuing warnings to all public offices identified as polling locations “because of the very hot weather, don’t make any mistakes.”

Concerns extend not only to worries about peoples’ health, but also computers and office equipment overheating with heavy election campaign use. Most cities are using schools for voting place and usually schools don’t have air conditioning, but rely only on electric fans. Nago city has made a lease for portable air conditioning for five of its locations, but says the other 12 places are without having air conditioning. Naha city has 52 voting places to accommodate an expected 240,135 voters, and most places are school gymnasium halls. Gymnasiums have no air conditioning, but the city office says “We don’t have a budget for renting air conditioners, so please take care by yourself and do some planning to stay cool.”

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