EC under fire over poll gaffes

EC under fire over poll gaffes

Parties up in arms about recount fiasco

Sawaeng Boonmee, deputy secretary-general of the Election Commission, explains the EC's stance on electoral results at the EC office in Bangkok on Monday. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)
Sawaeng Boonmee, deputy secretary-general of the Election Commission, explains the EC's stance on electoral results at the EC office in Bangkok on Monday. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)

The Election Commission (EC) has come under fierce criticism for the catalogue of errors that have plagued its vote counts and results announcements for the March 24 election.

The Future Forward Party (FFP) is pressing for a poll rerun in Nakhon Pathom's Constituency 1 to set the record straight after claiming Sunday's ballot recount was riddled with inaccuracies.

The constituency was a tight race between Democrat candidate Sinthop Kaeophichit and FFP candidate Savika Limpasuwanna who, based on the March 24 vote, lost to her Democrat opponent by a total of 147 votes.

Ms Savika then sought a recount after inspecting the Election Commission (EC) figures, which was granted across the constituency's 245 polling stations and held at Silapakorn University on Sunday.

While the official result of the recount has not been announced, the Democrat Party declared itself the winner by four ballots on Sunday.

However, shortly after, EC member Chatchai Chanpraisri said in a media interview that the FFP candidate had won by 62 votes.

Confusion remained until on Monday when EC secretary-general Jarungvith Phumma announced that the Democrat candidate had captured 35,711 votes, four more than Ms Savika.

Citing inaccuracies and a 20-second blackout while the ballots were being recounted, the FFP said there is evidence that the count was inaccurate and the EC should order an election rerun.

"With the results changing like that, it's not possible to say which count is correct," said an FFP statement.

Ms Savika said on her Facebook page that she wants clarification.

"The problem is the lingering doubt. Winning or losing is not as important as clarity, transparency and fairness," she said.

Democrat Party caretaker deputy leader Satit Pitutacha on Monday also wrote: "I beg, no more mistakes. It's damaging the organisation. The people's confidence has been devastated."

Samarn Naksakul, Nakhon Pathom's election director, admitted on Monday there was an error in the recount process which showed the FFP candidate had won the election by 62 votes.

According to Mr Samarn, it was found that the ballots marked for the Democrat candidate had been mistakenly recorded for another party.

Sawaeng Boonmee, deputy secretary-general of the EC, said on Monday a further recount will be ordered if irregularities are suspected.

"There are two legal reasons for a recount: the election is not transparent or not fair or the vote count is incorrect. A narrow margin isn't a basis even if it is one vote," he said.

On the EC's slowness to announce the election results after a month passed, Mr Sawaeng said the law requires the agency to endorse at least 95% of the results by May 9, which would happen.

Meanwhile, the Democrat Party on Monday reiterated its candidate won the recount in Nakhon Pathom's Constituency 1 by four votes on Sunday and urged the EC to announce the results as soon as possible.

Speaking at a press conference, acting party leader Jurin Laksanavisit said the party sent representatives to observe the recount and had reliable information that Mr Sinthop won by four votes.

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