EC defends Senate poll rules
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EC defends Senate poll rules

The Election Commission (EC) defended its controversial regulations regarding the Senate election yesterday, insisting it has not exceeded the powers legally granted to it.

In response to criticism about the upcoming race for the Senate, EC secretary-general Sawang Boonmee said the election rules are prescribed by the constitution as well as an organic law and there is nothing the EC can do about it.

According to the 2017 charter, the new Senate will comprise 200 members who come from 20 professional groups. They will not be directly elected by the public and the applicants will vote among themselves.

Mr Sawang said the poll agency issues the regulations concerning the introduction and canvassing of Senate candidates among themselves to ensure compliance, and in doing so, the EC does not exceed its mandate.

"It must be made clear that the general public can't vote in the Senate election because it is prescribed by the law, not the EC. Under the law, the Senate candidates are allowed to introduce themselves to 'eligible voters', which in this case means the other candidates," he said.

On Wednesday, a group of four prospective candidates lodged a petition with the Administrative Court challenging the EC's regulations on the basis that some of the restrictions were in breach of their freedom of expression.

According to the complainants, Regulation No.7 allows candidates to only introduce themselves using an A4 poster, which is intended for their fellow candidates and strictly prohibited from being made public. Regulation No.11 prohibits them from giving media interviews. They asked the court to issue an injunction to temporarily suspend these EC regulations until the court hands down a ruling.

However, Mr Sawang said that although the general public cannot vote in the Senate election, they can still monitor and scrutinise the election process after the application closes.

The list of the candidates and their backgrounds will be uploaded on the EC's Smart Vote application and the EC's website for the public to see. The candidates, meanwhile, are allowed to contact each other via email and the Line chat application, he said.

Asked how the EC will prevent collusion, he said measures would be introduced to prevent any form of manipulation especially "organised voting", in which people apply to run only to vote for other candidates.

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