EC urged to count 'late' NZ ballots

EC urged to count 'late' NZ ballots

Activist Srisuwan Janya has called on the Election Commission (EC) to count the ballots from New Zealand that were delivered late, otherwise the overall poll should be considered as void.

In Wellington, the Thai ambassador expressed disappointment over the late delivery of the 1,542 ballots from advance voting in New Zealand, which led to the votes being deemed invalid.

Mr Srisuwan, secretary-general of the Association for the Protection of the Constitution, said at the Office of the EC yesterday that Thai people in New Zealand had legitimately exercised their right. It was illegitimate for the EC to invalidate their ballots only because they could not be delivered to their respective constituencies before the polls closed at 5pm on Sunday.

"That may lead to the conclusion that the general election on March 24 was dishonest ... and that it can be considered as void," Mr Srisuwan said.

He called on the EC to consider the ballots from New Zealand as valid and to count them. Otherwise, his association would ask the Constitutional Court to void the election, Mr Srisuwan said.

Thai ambassador to New Zealand Danai Menabodhi expressed regret and disappointment over the exclusion of the 1,542 ballots earlier cast in New Zealand.

"The embassy is aware of the feelings of all voters, feels disappointed and extreme regret that the voices of eligible voters and ours in New Zealand were not heard in this election," the ambassador said in a statement.

Sumeth Damrongchaitham, president of Thai Airways said the airline had experience in delivering advance vote ballots and had followed EC protocol rigorously.

"We usually wait until a representative from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs comes to claim the sack," he said in explanation as to why the sack of ballots was still in a cargo warehouse in Bangkok at 5pm on Sunday when the polls closed.

EC secretary-general Jarungvith Phumma earlier said the law required advance ballots to reach their polling units before polls closed, or they would be invalidated.

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