Senator doubles down on manipulation claim
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Senator doubles down on manipulation claim

Next stage of voting 'will reveal collusion'

Caretaker senator Somchai Swangkarn
Caretaker senator Somchai Swangkarn

The next round of voting in the Senate election will show that there are several individuals who were hired to take part in the process simply to vote for candidates backed by certain political parties or interest groups, according to caretaker senator Somchai Swangkarn.

Mr Somchai, who has repeatedly claimed that there are concerted attempts to manipulate the outcome of the Senate election, said a review of the results of district-level voting on Sunday showed many applicants failed to receive any votes while others received overwhelming support.

He claimed on Monday that the situation was the result of a loophole in the organic law governing the Senate election, which allows candidates to vote for themselves and/or for other candidates.

He alleged some of those who received zero votes on Sunday may have been bankrolled to join the race by a political party or interest group, simply so they can vote for other candidates.

"If we keep an eye on the provincial-level voting [on June 16], we will be able to see signs of collusion. Only those backed [by certain parties and groups] will get through," he said.

"No offence to those who were genuine candidates, but their chances are really slim without the support of organised groups," he said.

Mr Somchai blamed the Election Commission (EC) for failing to thoroughly examine the candidates' backgrounds, saying many are believed to have lied about their professional experiences.

He also slammed the EC for allowing the candidates to bring "Sor Wor 3" documents to the voting booth, saying some of the documents in question had been marked with instructions telling them who to vote for.

Mr Somchai said that he could only monitor the election and alert people to possible irregularities because, under the law, only district-level election officials are authorised to file complaints at this stage. "If only the EC would do its job ... even just 90% of it, it is bound to find [irregularities]," he said.

A senatorial candidate in Mae Hong Son claimed on Monday several candidates in his province were paid 5,000 baht each by political groups to apply so they could vote for certain candidates.

He claimed the hired candidates did not try to lobby others to vote for themselves or made efforts to introduce themselves at all.

He added that political parties and interest groups fielded their candidates in every group to dominate the entire voting process.

Separately, when asked if the Senate has received any complaint about the election, caretaker senator Seree Suwanpanont said reports of alleged irregularities must be submitted to the EC for investigation. "We've heard [complaints], but there is no evidence [to back them up]," he said.

Mr Seree said there was nothing irregular or wrong with high-profile candidates being elected by their peers before noting several well-known candidates did not make it to the next round.

When asked about the prospects of the results being invalidated due to the complaints, he said they would only be voided if the Constitutional Court rules that the election was in breach of the charter.

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