EC bullish despite advance vote issues
The Election Commission (EC) expressed satisfaction on Monday with Sunday's advance voting despite some reported irregularities including the alleged discovery of a pre-marked book of ballots.
EC chairman Ittiporn Boonpracong gave assurances that issues would be reviewed and mistakes redressed before the entire country goes to the polls this Sunday.
About 2.6 million people registered for advance voting nationwide and 87% turned out, he said, noting that turnout in several areas had exceeded 90%.
He admitted that election staff at polling stations in several provinces gave out ballot papers for the wrong constituencies.
He said once the votes were dropped in ballot boxes, nothing could be done and they would not be counted.
Mr Ittiporn said suspected fraud was reported in three provinces.
In Samut Sakhon, a man allegedly stole a whole book of ballots and marked the papers for a candidate of a particular party. However, those votes were destroyed and the person was charged with the crime.
A second incident was reported in Uthai Thani where a voter used another man's ID card to vote. The impersonator was also arrested and charged.
The third incident took place in Kalasin's Constituency 2 where fake documents were used to claim a candidate had been disqualified. The candidate in question was urged to lodge a complaint with police.
According to Mr Ittiporn, the EC's Smart Vote application did not work when the polls opened but was online 15 minutes later after a server problem was fixed.
He said the EC would thoroughly review the advanced voting process and also instruct election staff to be on the lookout for any similar irregularities during the election proper.
Meanwhile, the Open Forum for Democracy Foundation (P-Net) issued a statement calling on the EC to ensure there are no issues this weekend.
P-Net's main concerns include wrong ballot papers being given out and missing names from lists of election candidates in some constituencies. It also urged the EC to ensure ballots would be delivered to the correct polling stations this Sunday.
Chadchart Sittipunt, a Pheu Thai Party prime ministerial candidate, echoed concerns about the handling of ballot papers, saying the EC must make sure that the names on the ballots correctly match the names on ID cards.
Mr Chadchart said if the March 24 election is plagued with problems, it would lead to unwanted consequences.
"This should serve as a lesson. Next Sunday is the real thing and there shouldn't be any problems. I think some people have doubts and the EC has to prove it is being transparent otherwise it will affect post-election confidence," he said.
Thailand Post has enlisted more than 3,000 staff members to help sort out ballots cast overseas which have arrived in Thailand.
The ballots are being separated and will be sent to their respective constituencies to be counted on Sunday.
- Atiya commentary: Election Commission biggest loser