Thais abroad 'should' cast postal votes

Thais abroad 'should' cast postal votes

Four political parties yesterday called on the Election Commission (EC) to coordinate with the Foreign Affairs Ministry to adopt postal voting as the main method for early voting by Thais abroad.

Representatives from Seri Ruam Thai, Move Forward, Prachachart and Pheu Thai asked the EC to address issues they feared would discourage Thais overseas from casting ballots in the May elections. Their move follows reports that Thai embassies and consulates in some countries have cancelled postal voting and scheduled advance voting on work days.

Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, chairman of Seri Ruam Thai's policy steering committee, said the EC should hold talks with the Foreign Affairs Ministry to facilitate and simplify voting for overseas Thais.

He said postal voting should be adopted as the main method and if Thai citizens overseas have to vote in person, an early voting period should be held at weekends.

According to Mr Somchai who is a former EC member, there are about 1.3 million Thais overseas and at least 1 million are eligible to vote in the upcoming elections. In the last polls, of the 1 million eligible voters overseas, about 100,000 cast ballots.

Mr Somchai said if the Foreign Affairs Ministry makes it more convenient for voters, it could result in a higher turnout.

Pol Col Thawee Sodsong, secretary-general of the Prachachart Party, criticised the early voting in Malaysia -- which is set for April 27-28 -- as impractical.

He said there are several hundred thousand Thais working in Malaysia, and advance voting should be scheduled at the weekend to encourage them to exercise their right to vote.

MFP secretary-general Chaithawat Tulathon urged the EC to print the names of candidates on the ballots as well to reduce confusion and demanded to know if real-time updates of the vote tallies would be available.

Pheu Thai's legal expert Sukhumpong Ngonkham said the EC should address these concerns or be penalised for negligence.

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