The government is going all-out to increase voter turnout for this summer’s Upper House election, and is even considering setting up polling stations at shopping centers or other retail outlets in front of major train stations. Under the Public Offices Election Law, just one polling booth is set up in each neighborhood. Normally, elementary schools serve as polling locations. Given that elections are usually held on Sundays in Japan, setting up polling booths at shopping centers would allow people to cast their votes in-between weekend shopping. According to the internal affairs ministry, which is in charge of elections, the joint polling booths would be set up in addition to the normal polling stations. All polling stations would be connected online to prevent individuals from voting more than once.
The government is planning to submit legislation in the current Diet session to amend the Public Offices Election Law to allow for the changes.
The ministry is also considering changes in the absentee voting system. Currently, absentee ballots can be cast before election day between 8:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. However, under the proposed change, local governments will be allowed to expand those times to as early as 6:30 a.m. and as late as 10 p.m.