EC gearing up for Feb 2 polls

The Election Commission is continuing with preparations for the Feb 2 election and will ask security-related agencies to provide security for eligible voters at all polling units nationwide, EC chairman Supachai Somcharoen said on Wednesday.

Mr Supachai said that since the government has insisted on going ahead with the Feb 2 elecion despite the EC's concerns over the problems ahead, the commission is duty-bound to organise the polls.

In doing so, the EC will adhere to the law and supervise the electoral process with honesty and righteousness, and will try to prevent clashes which could lead to losses and damage.

The EC will also ask security agencies to ensure the safety of voters at all polling units nationwide, he said.

Mr Supachai said he did not regard the outcome of yesterday's meeting with the government as a defeat for the Election Commission, which had recommended the postponement of the polls.

"The EC has complied with the Constitution Court's advice, but the power to decide belongs with the prime minister," he said.

On the problem of the blockades that prevented ballot papers  being delivered to polling stations in 28 constituencies in the South, Mr Supachai said the EC would try to get them delivered.

The ballot papers are held up at three post offices -- in Thung Song district of Nakhon Si Thammarat, Hat Yai district of Songkhla and Muang district of Chumphon.

If the EC was not able to ensure delivery, polling booths in the 28 constituencies would not be able to open for voting.

Supachai Srisuthiyakorn, the commissioner in charge of election management, said the EC would try to negotiate with protesters blocking the three post offices to release the ballot sheets.

He said the EC would organise another round of advance voting in late February for those who could not vote on Jan 26.  The date would be announced later.

As for the resignation of the directors of some election constituencies, their replacements would have to be appointed in 60 days to certify election results.

Mr Somchai said it would take at least three or four months for this election to be completed. Without  results from all polling units, the vote count in the party-list system would not be able to proceed and no results would be announced.

Moreover, votes from advance voting at all polling units were also needed before the election results in the constituency system can be announced.  This means all polling units will have to wait for votes from the new round of advance voting to be held in late February, Mr Somchai said.

Mr Somchai said if voting could not be held at some polling units, the EC would decide under Section 78 of the election law to postpone polling at those units as necessary to avoid violence.

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