MMP vote count may take days

Somchai unsure if poll system worth trouble

A vote count is likely to take about three days, compared with one in previous polls, to complete if the mixed member proportional (MMP) representation system with an open list is adopted, the Election Commission (EC) says.

Commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, who is in charge of election administration, said a complete count will take days because of the open list in which voters can specify the candidate on the party list they want to vote for.

He was speaking after the EC conducted a practical demonstration Monday of voting and the vote count process at the commission's head office.

The demonstration was to help the poll agency envisage what it will be like if the proposed MMP system with the open list proposed by the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) is adopted.

No CDC or National Reform Council (NRC) members showed up to observe proceedings Monday.

In the demonstration, an election unit had five voting booths staffed by 11 poll officials. Voters selected single-constituency and party-list MPs under the MMP system in a situation where 20 political parties contested a poll. A total of 174 people managed to cast their votes in one hour.

Election Commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn on Monday showed off a mock ballot that voters will encounter if the MMP voting system is adopted under the new constitution. (Photo by Thiti Wannamontha)

Based on the demonstration, Mr Somchai said MMP with the open list is expected to cause a number of problems.

Among them is that a vote count could take up to 70 hours, as opposed to about 24 in previous polls, and spoiled ballots may increase significantly given the complicated voting process.

"I'm not sure if the open list is worth the trouble. But if the CDC thinks it is, the EC will do it," he said. 

Mr Somchai also said that as the CDC has proposed a provision in the draft charter that allows people to form their own political groups without any party affiliation to run in elections, there could be as many as 280 parties and independent political groups contesting the poll.

Currently, there are 74 registered parties. Between 100-200 political groups are expected to be formed and registered with the EC if the provision stays.

This means a ballot paper with the open list will be about 60x90 cm in size, based on today's party and political group figures.

"We will have a world record when it comes to the size of a ballot paper," he said.

However, the unofficial results of the election would be known as soon as the vote count for the party-list system is completed without needing to wait for the results of the open list.

Meanwhile, political scientists and law experts on Mondday voiced disagreement over the provision that makes it easy for political groups to run for House seats.

They made their opposition clear at a seminar hosted by the NRC's political reform panel which was organised to gather opinions about the draft charter put forward by the CDC.

Most participants were concerned that the provision would lead to a situation in which small groups could be "bought" by major parties seeking to consolidate their political base in the House.

Related search: Constitution, election, voting, mock election, mock ballot, MPP voting

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Writer: Mongkol Bangprapa
Position: Senior reporter covering politics