Plan in place to safeguard votes abroad as poll nears
published : 24 Mar 2023 at 06:24
newspaper section: News
writer: Post Reporters
The Foreign Affairs Ministry is gearing up for advance voting by Thai citizens abroad, with a system to be introduced to monitor the voting in real time.
Ministry spokeswoman Kanchana Patarachoke said Thai embassies and consulates will announce the venues and dates for overseas advance voting next Wednesday and registration is expected to open by the end of this month.
She said that under the election law, they must organise this at least seven days prior to the general election scheduled for May 14.
The ministry has set up a committee tasked with overseeing advance voting for Thai citizens abroad, with the director-general of the Department of Consular Affairs as chairman, said Ms Kanchana, who also serves as director-general of the ministry's Department of Information.
The committee has also discussed with relevant agencies the regulations, budget allocations and personnel that will be earmarked for the voting, she said.
She went on to say the ministry has come up with a system to monitor overseas voting in real time, as well as to track the delivery of advance ballot papers in diplomatic pouches sent by Thai embassies to the Election Commission (EC) in Thailand.
Ms Kanchana said the system is intended to ensure overseas voting proceeds smoothly and to prevent any repeat of an incident in which a diplomatic bag containing ballots cast in New Zealand for Thailand's 2019 election arrived late, resulting in them not being counted.
On Feb 13, the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) found former EC deputy secretary-general Nat Laosisawakul guilty of negligence over the late arrival of 1,542 advance votes from Thai citizens in New Zealand prior to the March 24, 2019 election.
NACC secretary-general Niwatchai Kasemmongkol said a committee investigated Mr Nat and two Foreign Ministry officials for dereliction of duty in failing to ensure those ballots sent by the Thai embassy in Wellington on a Thai Airways flight were collected and counted on March 23 of that year, despite being aware the pouch had arrived that day.
As a result, the EC decided the 1,542 ballots could not be included in the tally because they arrived too late, under Section 114 of the MP Election Act (2018).
Mr Niwatchai said Mr Nat had committed a breach of discipline, causing serious damage to the EC.
However, both Foreign Ministry officials were let off without further action as there were insufficient grounds to support the accusations of negligence against them.
- New Zealand