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Rough start to advanced voting

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Polling stations were supposed to open at 8am this morning, but already there are many reports of protesters blocking the entry ways and even locking some stations, forcing cancellation of the vote in some key Bangkok districts. 

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The Lak Si polling station was prepared for advanced voting, but not the number of protesters who arrived well before 8am. Election officials have now cancelled the vote there. PATTARAPONG CHATPATTARASILL



Election Commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn estimates that a total of 440,000 people nationwide could not cast their advance votes on Sunday as a total of 89 constituencies out of 375 were unable to carry out voting.

They were mainly in the South and the Bangkok area, although there were scattered problems elsewhere. One constituency in Phetchabun, for example, was closed by protesters.

Turnout was heavy in some places, light in many others. In the Sathorn district of Bangkok, for example, only about 2,000 voters turned out of the 17,000 who had registered for advanced voting.


Core protest leader shot dead

A view from inside a vehicle attacked at Wat Sri Iam in Bang Na in which killed Suthin Tharathin. THITI WANNAMONTHA

Relatives mourn the loss of Suthin Tharathin, a rally leader with long experience in NGOs related to community development. PHRAKRIT JUNTAWONG

From our online reporters

Suthin Tharathin, a core protest leader, was shot dead at Wat Sri Iam in the Bang Na area, while 11 others were injured in an attack at a polling station in the Bang Na area of Bangkok, according to media reports.

Suthin was a leader of the People's Democratic Force to Overthrow Thaksinism (Pefot). He led a group of protesters under the People’s Democratic Reform Committee to a polling station at Wat Sri Iam in Bang Na at around 11.30am after learning that booths were still open for advance voting.

He went to negotiate with the director of the polling station who finally agreed to close down operations. Protesters then prepared to leave the station.

Ater the group had gone only a short distance, they saw more than 50 alleged red-shirt supporters waiting for them, so the protesters tried to avoid them. Gunshots were fired from among the red-shirt supporters and the sound of a bomb was heard.

In the aftermath, Suthin was found to have been shot and 11 others were injured. They were rushed to a nearby hospital but Suthin was pronounced dead from wounds to the head and neck. The injured protesters are described as being in a stable condition.


Here's an update for our online reporters

The advance voting has been carried out quite smoothly in the North and most of the Northeast, the East and Central regions but has been called off in several provinces in the South as well as in some districts of Bangkok, according to the Election Commission (EC).

Large numbers of anti-government protesters began to surround polling stations in some districts of Bangkok and southern provinces early Sunday, in an attempt to oppose the scheduled advance voting for the Feb 2 national election.

Suthep Thaugsuban, secretary-general of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), called Saturday night for supporters to gather at 5am to prepare to move to close election stations in Bangkok’s districts.

As of 8am, election officials in several districts of Bangkok were unable to enter the polling stations, which were set up at locations such as schools, department stores and district offices.

Protesters used chain to lock the entrances of some polling stations, such as Ban Bang Kapi School which is used as a polling unit for some 80,000 people who had registered for advance voting.

PDRC protesters moved quickly from one polling station to another on learning that polling units in other districts were still open.

Most core protesters who lead the protests at each polling station have tried to say that the protesters do not oppose the election but only put “pressure” on election officials not to carry on the advance voting.

11:06: At last count advanced voting is no longer taking place in 43 (Make that 45 as of 11:35) of Bangkok's 50 districts and in nine southern provinces. That number could rise. Interestingly, voting was able to proceed in Thailand three southernmost provinces, but the situation is not said to be tense in Yala.

Rough start to advanced voting

This is the protest group that shut down voting in Bang Kapi and then in Minburi. Photo by PATTARACHAI PREECHAPANICH

Polling stations were supposed to open at 8am this morning, but already there are many reports of protesters blocking the entry ways and even locking some stations, forcing cancellation of the vote in some key Bangkok districts.

Protesters from the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) have surrounded many of the main polling stations. At some stations, voters are reported to be waiting outside to see if they will get the opportunity to vote.

Protesters have reportedly already forced election officials to cancel the advanced voting in Bang Kapi, Don Muang, Bang Bon, Khlong Toei, Dusit, Patumwan, Bang Phlat, Bang Sue, Ding Daeng and Lak Si. There are reports that Ratchawithi, Bueng Kum and Bang Khun Thian are also about to close. There are also reports of anger building amongst people who want to vote in some places. They have been told to file complaints with the police.

Here's an early morning voter who did get to cast her ballot in Lat Krabang before the polling station was shut against the wishes of many of the locals. PATTARACHAI PREECHAPANICH

After the Lat Krabang polling station closed due to the protests, angry residents demanded to be allowed to vote. PATTARACHAI PREECHAPANICH

Some polling stations have opened, however, thus far undisturbed by protesters. Among them are Phra Nakhon, Tawee Wattana, and Phasi Charoern. Latest: A large group of protesters has just arrived at Tawee Wattana. 10:20  Only 12 of Bangkok's 50 polling stations are still open according to the latest (unofficial) count.

Reports from the South indicate that voting has been severely disrupted, if not cancelled, in many provinces.


advance: before the time that is expected; before something happens - ล่วงหน้า

aftermath: the effects and results of something bad or important - ผลที่ตามมา

alleged: claimed to be true although not yet proven; claimed to have done something wrong but not yet proven - ที่ถูกกล่าวหา

avoid: to stay away from a place; to try to prevent something from happening - หลีกเลี่ยง

block: to stop someone/ something from moving through or along something else - ปิดกั้น, กีดขวาง

call off: to decide to stop something that is already happening; to decide that something will not happen - บอกเลิก

cancellation: a decision to stop something that has been arranged from taking place - การยกเลิก

cast: (of a vote) to vote by putting marking your voting paper (ballot) and putting it in the ballot box - ลงคะแนน

chain: a series of connected metal rings, used for pulling or fastening things; a length of chain used for a particular purpose - โซ่

community: the people living in one particular area - ชุมชน

condition: the physical state of a person or animal, especially how healthy they are - อาการ, สุขภาพ

constituency: a district that elects its own representative to parliament - เขตเลือกตั้ง

core: of members of a group who do the most important work, or who support it most strongly - แก่น แกนนำ

development: the gradual growth of something so that it becomes more advanced, stronger, etc - การพัฒนา

disrupt: to prevent something from continuing as usual or as expected - ทำให้เสียกระบวน, ทำให้เสียระบบ, ทำให้สับสน

Election Commission: the independent government agency that oversees elections - คณะกรรมการเลือกตั้ง

estimate: to say what you think an amount or value is or will be, either by using available information or by guessing - คาดคะเน

indicate: to show that something is true, exists or will happen - แสดง, ทำให้รู้

injured: hurt in an accident or attack - ได้รับบาดเจ็บ

key: most important - ที่สำคัญ

locals: people who live in a particular place - ชาวบ้าน

media: radio, television, newspaper, the Internet, considered as a group - สื่อ

mourn : to feel extremely sad because someone has died and to express this in public -

nationwide: throughout a whole country - ทั่วทั้งประเทศ

negotiate: to try to reach an agreement by discussing something in a formal way - เจรจาต่อรอง

NGO: non-governmental organization (a charity, association, etc. that is independent of government and business) - เอ็นจีโอ, องค์การนอกภาครัฐ

operation: an activity which is planned to achieve something - การดำเนินการ

opportunity: a chance to do something, or a situation in which it is easy for you to do something - โอกาส

overthrow: to force a person or government out of power - โค่นอำนาจ

PDRC: People's Democratic Reform Committee, an anti-government protest group, headed by Suthep Thuagsuban - กปปส. คณะกรรมการประชาชนเพื่อการเปลี่ยนแปลงประเทศไทยให้เป็นประชาธิปไตยที่สมบูรณ์ อันมีพระมหากษัตริย์ทรงเป็นประมุข.

polling booth: the small structure, often closed from the view of others, where people vote - คูหา

polling station: the place where people vote in an election - หน่วยเลือกตั้ง

pressure: trying to make someone do something by forcing, threatening, or persuading them in a determined way - ความกดดัน, แรงกระตุ้น, การบีบบังคับ

register: to put your name and other information on an official list in order to be allowed to do something, e.g., vote, study, stay in a hotel etc - ลงทะเบียน

relative: a member of your family - ญาติพี่น้อง

reportedly: as reported (often used for showing that you are not certain that something you are reporting is true) - ตามที่รายงาน

rough: difficult and unpleasant - ยากลำบาก, ไม่เป็นระเบียบ

scattered: happening in only a few places - โปร่ง, หยอมแหยม

scheduled: planned to happen at a particular time or day - ตามตารางเวลา

severely: very seriously - อย่างรุนแรง

stable: not changing frequently and not likely to suddenly become worse - คงที่, มั่นคง

surround: to be everywhere around something - ล้อมรอบ

turnout: the number or percentage of eligible voters who vote in an election - จำนวนผู้ออกมาลงคะแนน

wound: an injury in which your skin or flesh is damaged - บาดแผล

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