2,000 pick up Senate poll application forms on day 1
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2,000 pick up Senate poll application forms on day 1

Almost 2,000 people picked up application forms for the Senate election on Friday, the first day they were distributed, the Election Commission (EC) said on Saturday.

Potential candidates can obtain forms and documents at the district offices and provincial registration offices nationwide between 8.30am and 4.30pm daily. They can submit the forms and required documents at designated venues after applications are opened.

The EC says 1,933 people asked for application forms on the first day. Officials must provide detailed advice to would-be candidates to ensure they are qualified to contest. Eligible candidates must reside in the district they plan to run for at least two years, have knowledge and experience in their chosen fields and apply in one profession group only.

Pol Lt Col Rapipong Jirapattanlak, director of Nakhon Ratchasima election office, said the office plans to invite candidates to a meeting on May 19 to explain the guidelines. The EC is under fire over campaign regulations which allow candidates to only introduce themselves using an A4 poster that cannot be made public, and prohibit them from giving media interviews. The Senate election has been announced to succeed 250 senators installed by the now-defunct National Council for Peace and Order whose term ended on Friday.

A royal decree calling the Senate election, bestowed by His Majesty the King and signed by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, was published in the Royal Gazette on Saturday. The decree was issued in line with Section 107 and Section 175 of the constitution. The Election Commission chairman is authorised to enforce the decree.

According to the 2017 charter, the new Senate will comprise 200 members from 20 professions and will not be directly elected by the public. The applicants will vote among themselves in three stages -- district, provincial and national. With the royal decree issued, the EC is expected to announce May 20-26 as the application period with elections at district, provincial and national levels to be held on June 9, 16 and 26, respectively.

The Senate race is expected to draw about 100,000 applicants who will be shortlisted to 55,680 people after the first round of voting at the district level, or three candidates with the highest votes in each professional group in all 928 districts. That number will then be screened down to 3,080 in the second round at the provincial level, or two candidates at the top of each professional group for 77 provinces.

In the final election at the national level, the 200 senators, or the 10 who pull the highest votes in the 20 groups, will be selected with the outcome to be announced on July 2 along with a reserve list of five candidates in each group.

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