Tough stand against vote rigging

Tough stand against vote rigging

An election-fraud whistleblower can expect a reward of at least 100,000 baht while those buying and selling votes may be banned for life and face not only an unsuspended jail sentence of up to 10 years but also a fine of 20 million baht.

These are some of the suggestions in a report on honest and fair elections by the politics panel of the National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA).

The council approved the report unanimously (166-0), with four abstentions, on Monday. It will be sent to the cabinet for consideration. If approved, a bill will be drafted based on it and enacted by the National Legislative Assembly.

The report proposes that an informer whose information finally leads to prosecution when the case is final should be rewarded with at least 100,000 baht in cash from the Political and Election Development Fund to encourage people to help prevent fraud.

Supervised by the Election Commission, the fund receives 200 million baht a year from the central budget. It gives subsidies to political parties which have won at least 0.5% of all MP and party votes nationwide. In the 2011 polls, nine parties were subsidised. Smaller parties which have won less than 0.5% of all votes will get another form of subsidy. The goal is to promote and sustainably strengthen political parties.

Politicians will be prohibited from making merits or donations at traditional ceremonies such as weddings, ordination ceremonies or funerals at their constituencies to prevent indirect vote-buying.

Severe criminal and civil penalties are prescribed for violators. Anyone handing out money or receiving it will be banned from politics for life and faces an unsuspended jail sentence of 1-10 years and a 20-million-baht fine.

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