Advance voters queue nationwide as temperatures soar
published : 7 May 2023 at 10:25
updated: 7 May 2023 at 21:30
writer: Online reporters and AFP
Advance voters queued under the blistering sun outside temples, shopping centres and schools to cast their early ballots on Sunday ahead of the much-anticipated election on May 14.
The highest number of voters - 52,771 - registered to cast their advance ballots at Ramkhamhaeng University in Bangkok's Hua Mak area.
People who have registered for advance voting can cast their votes at designated polling stations nationwide from 8am - 5pm.
More than two million Thais nationwide are registered to vote early ahead of the kingdom's May 14 election, which is shaping up to be a clash between army-backed establishment parties and resurgent opposition movements.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who took power in a 2014 coup before cementing control in a controversial 2019 election, has been languishing in opinion polls with voters favouring old-school opposition party Pheu Thai and the more radical Move Forward Party.
But with an electoral system seen by many as heavily stacked in favour of the army-backed parties, challengers must achieve a landslide victory to have any hope of forming the next government.
"I hope this election will change the country in a better way," said shopping mall worker Srisuda Wongsa-ad, 28, after casting her ballot.
She was among hundreds queuing quietly at a polling station in the city's fashionable Ekkamai district to vote at the Wat That Thong temple, overlooked by golden standing buddhas.
"I am voting for a candidate and party that I like, that can answer my needs," she said, adding that she was voting early as it was more convenient for her.
Elsewhere in the city, the Royal Paragon Hall shopping centre was packed with voters, albeit cooler ones, enjoying the complex's air conditioning.
Despite the early hour, temperatures across the capital were soaring and expected to hit 39 degrees Celsius later Sunday.
But crowds were still out in force, with traffic and congestion around busy polling stations.
"I am quite excited," said first-time voter Pasawee Sriarunothai, 20, who will be out of Bangkok on May 14.
"I decide to cast my vote based on the party's policies, and I hope this election will bring the country a better future," Ms Pasawee said.
An additional 100,000 Thais living overseas will also vote early, with some having already done so.
More than 52 million citizens are eligible to vote in this election.
The Royal Thai Police Office has set up a security and peace maintenance centre for elections under the supervision of deputy national police chief Pol Gen Roy Ingkapairote.
Pol Lt Gen Nithithorn Jintakanon, the centre's spokesman, said all police stations where advance voting is taking place have been instructed to facilitate traffic in their areas of responsibility, while voters should plan their travel ahead of time.
Alcohol sales are banned nationwide until 6pm.
Throughout the country, there are 26 polling stations where more than 20,000 voters have registered to cast their votes - 11 in Bangkok and 15 in other provinces.
The 11 polling units with more than 20,000 registered advance voters in Bangkok are: Ramkhamhaeng University, Hua Mak - 52,711; 5th Floor of Siam Paragon shopping centre, Pathumwan - 40,787; Huay Khwang district office - 28,344; Bang Khen district office - 26,288; Thailand-Japan Youth Centre, Din Daeng - 25,383; Lat Krabang district office - 25,258; Bang Na district office - 24,661, G Floor parking area of Central Phra Ram 2 - 23,112; parking area of Wat That Thong - 22,811; Chan Kasem Rajabhat University - 22,258; and Bang Sue district office - 21,490.
The 15 polling stations with more than 20,000 registered advance voters in other provinces are: Parking area, Samut Prakan's city hall - 36,520; Nonthaburi city hall - 33,835; Chon Buri city hall - 32,149; Chiang Mai International Exhibition and Convention Centre -31,220; Central Plaza, Ayutthaya - 27,649; Wat Klang Klong 3 School, Pathum Thani - 27,631; Bang Phli Ratbamrung School, Samut Prakan - 27,188; Bang Bo Withayakhom School, Samut Prakan - 27,188; Bung Siracha Pitayakhom School, Si Racha district, Chon Buri - 25,002; Khon Kaen International Convention and Exhibition Centre - 24,702: Panthong Chanupatham School, Chon Buri - 23,647; Samut Sakhon Withayalai School - 23,064; Central Plaza, Nakhon Ratchasima - 22,846; Tessaban Bansi Maharacha School, Si Racha district, Chon Buri - 22,288; and Bang Lamung School, Bang Lamuang district, Chon Buri - 20,737.
Traisuree Taisaranakul, a deputy government spokesperson, said eligible voters are required to show Thai national ID cards or other identification cards issued by state agencies such as driver's licences and passports.
They can also show electronic identification cards using ThaiID app, DLT QR LICENCE app, or the application for people with disabilities.
People cast their votes in Bang Bua Thong district, Nonthaburi on Sunday. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)