EC blasted for giving itself more power

EC blasted for giving itself more power

Ex-Democrat MP calls for more transparency

The Election Commission in its press conference on the Aug 7 constitution referendum (photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
The Election Commission in its press conference on the Aug 7 constitution referendum (photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

A Democrat politician on Friday slammed the Election Commission (EC) for seeking to give itself more power while urging the charter drafters to introduce stricter mechanisms in a new organic law to keep election staff in check.

Charnchai Isarasenarak, a former MP for Nakhon Nayok, said the poll agency failed badly at ensuring transparency and it was time for the EC to "clean up its own mess".

"The EC has never cleaned its own house. It should reform itself. The Constitution Drafting Committee [CDC] should introduce stricter mechanisms and harsher punishments. The EC has enough power and what the agency really needs to do is to use it in a transparent manner and it must be held accountable," he said.

His criticism came as the EC reviews the third organic law which involves the commission's structure and authority. The poll agency has submitted two draft organic laws on political parties and MP elections to the CDC for consideration.

Mr Charnchai said election officials must be impartial, transparent and honest when doing their jobs, otherwise elections will never be fair.

The Democrat politician said he has evidence to prove that election officials had a hand in fraudulent activity in Nakhon Nayok in the 2011 election. He obtained a court order for the release of voter registration documents which showed the use of "ghost voters".

Mr Charnchai said several voters claimed other people had voted in their names and such a practice would not be possible without the help or knowledge of election officials. He said he had filed a complaint with the EC but no action was taken.

"So I'm asking for a double penalty for election staff found to be in the wrong. They must be held responsible," he said.

Mr Charnchai also suggested that the organic law governing the EC should grant the public access to examine voting registration documents after an election to ensure transparency and allow other agencies to scrutinise the EC's use of power one year prior to and after the election.

He said former election commissioners should be banned from serving as advisers to political parties for five years after leaving office. He also called for an increase in penalties against election staff found guilty of taking bribes from election candidates.

Mr Charnchai said he will submit the proposals to the CDC and ask Democrat deputy leader Jurin Laksanavisit to raise the issue when the latter joins a seminar on the drafting of organic laws next week.

Meanwhile, Charungwit Phumma, a legal specialist attached to the EC, said yesterday the poll agency will submit the third draft organic law to the CDC on Monday.

Under the draft law, a majority vote is required when the EC meets to make a resolution. If a commissioner is not present, the remaining commissioners are allowed to continue work, but if there are fewer than four commissioners, the remaining members are allowed to make a decision only if the case is urgent.

State officials or employees who are obliged to support the EC's handling of the elections are subject to criminal proceedings if they fail to comply with the EC's orders and cause damage to the elections.

He said the draft also calls for the establishment of a fund for the prevention and suppression of poll fraud. The fund will be set aside for anti-fraud measures and people who supply information linked to offences.

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