Ballot format draws flak

Ballot format draws flak

The ballot proposed by the EC with just candidate numbers (left) and the ballot used for party votes in the 2011 election, with party number, logos and names. NCPO chief Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha reportedly proposed a ballot with only candidate names and numbers.
The ballot proposed by the EC with just candidate numbers (left) and the ballot used for party votes in the 2011 election, with party number, logos and names. NCPO chief Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha reportedly proposed a ballot with only candidate names and numbers.

The ballot format reportedly floated by Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha which omits party names and logos has become yet another topic of criticism among politicians.

A deputy chief of a party revealed Gen Prayut, as chief of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), proposed the use of only candidate names and numbers and the omission of party names and logos on the ballot for the upcoming election at the meeting between the NCPO and political parties on Friday.

He also asked parties and related agencies to help propagate awareness about the new format.

Several parties have since voiced their concern for fear voters will be confused by the lack of the usual visual clues they have long been familiar with.

To calm dissent, Natt Laosisavasakul, deputy secretary-general of the Election Commission, said on Saturday the EC had yet to decide on which format to use.

“We found putting party names and logos on the ballots may cause problems for voting abroad. If registered voters abroad do not receive the ballots for some reason, we might not be able to resend them in time since the ballot for each district will be different,” he explained.

Mr Natt denied speculation the NCPO interfered with the EC's work, saying this format was proposed because the EC feared transport problems.

But politicians are not convinced.

Alongkorn Ponlabut, deputy chief of the Democrat Party, said the issue would be discussed at a party meeting and the Democrats might ask the Constitutional Court to rule on this.

“Voting is a constitutional duty and authorities must facilitate the process. Some voters are illiterate. A lack of logos could confuse them and might be unconstitutional.

“Besides, the issue might be a cause for nullification of the poll in future,” he said.

Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, a Democrat member and former election commissioner, said since a single ballot would be used for both constituency MPs and parties, it was imperative that party names and logos feature prominently on the ticket.

He pointed out a good ballot should have at least candidate numbers, their parties’ names and logos and, if possible, candidate names.

Other parties including Pheu Thai and Future Forward also disagreed with the idea for similar reasons.

“With only candidate names on the ballot, voters tend to tick the names they are familiar with even though the candidates may have already switched to another party,” said Piyabut Saengkanokkul, secretary- general of Future Forward.

He also warned about another looming confusion --- candidate numbers will be different even though they are of the same party, which would demand voters to remember these numbers instead of remembering only party numbers like in past elections. 

In previous elections, voters got two ballots -- for constituency MPs and for parties. The former had just candidate numbers while the latter had party names and logos. The 2019 election uses only a single ballot for both types. 


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