Activist: Count late-delivered NZ ballots, or void election

Activist: Count late-delivered NZ ballots, or void election

Activist Srisuwan Janya calls on the Election Commission to count the 1,542 ballots cast in New Zealand, or he will ask the Constitutional Court to void the March 24 polls. (Photo from his Facebook page)
Activist Srisuwan Janya calls on the Election Commission to count the 1,542 ballots cast in New Zealand, or he will ask the Constitutional Court to void the March 24 polls. (Photo from his Facebook page)

Activist Srisuwan Janya has called on the Election Commission 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 Election Commission on Monday 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 electorates 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 issued by the embassy.

He said the embassy and volunteers had taken more than two months to prepare for advance voting, which was held from March 4-16 at the embassy in Wellington, at its mobile polling units in Auckland and Blenheim and through the mail.

In New Zealand, 1,862 people had registered for early voting and 1,542 of them cast their votes, a turnout of 82.81%, Mr Danai said.

Envelopes containing individual ballots were sorted on March 17 and were sent from Wellington as air cargo on March 18. The flight was scheduled to arrive in Thailand on March 19. However, the transport was beyond the control of the embassy, he said.

Ittiporn Boonpracong, chairman of the Election Commission, said late on Sunday night that the Air New Zealand delivered the mail, which reached Thai Airways International (THAI) on March 21. On March 22 the sack was discovered and then delivered to Thailand on the night of March 23, Saturday.

When the polls closed at 5pm on Sunday, the sack was still at THAI's cargo warehouse, Mr Ittiporn said. 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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