The Election Commission (EC) came under intense pressure yesterday as political parties pushed for transparency and fair treatment amid suspicions of intervention and manipulation of Sunday’s national vote.
EC members yesterday met for over three hours before deciding not to count the 1,542 ballots cast in advance voting by Thai expatriates in New Zealand.
The ballots, transported by air to Thailand, failed to arrive at their intended polling stations in time for vote counting on Sunday.
The anti-junta Future Forward Party threatened to take legal action against the commissioners for alleged malfeasance if they failed to call new voting in constituencies where officials manning polling stations were accused of unfair practices.
Future Forward executives yesterday submitted their request for the EC to disclose all key data about Sunday’s general election. They cited the Official Information Act.
Klaikong Vaidayakarn, the party’s registrar, said the request was for the EC to disclose information such as the number of eligible voters, voter turnout, number of ballot papers for polling stations, ballots considered void, and the votes each candidate obtained.
“Disclosure of such information can help reduce the possibility of election fraud,” Klaikong said.
He claimed there were attempts to reduce the number of votes Future Forward had got in many areas throughout the country.
A Future Forward candidate in Bangkok, Adisorn Pho-arn, yesterday said certain election officials in Constituency 5 had acted unfairly in favour of candidates from the pro-junta Phalang Pracharat Party while counting votes.
He demanded that the EC decide within three days whether to call new voting in the constituency. “If they fail to make things clear, I will sue the EC for dereliction of duty,” he said.
The anti-junta Pheu Thai Party yesterday pressured the EC to ensure fair treatment amid alleged interventions and manipulations.
“We just want fairness in this election. It has been alleged that special power was used to interfere with the election,” Pheu Thai secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai said.
He also asked the EC to announce the votes obtained by the candidates as soon as possible, to avoid accusations the EC was “fixing the numbers”.
An online campaign at the Change.org website for impeachment of Thailand’s election commissioners obtained support from 757,000 netizens yesterday evening. The goal was to gather 1 million supporters.
The campaign’s leaders explained on its page that it was launched after Sunday’s election showed signs of irregularities and was faced with a lot of allegations.
Meanwhile, the European Union called for the election results to be announced as soon as possible.
“We look forward to the announcement of the election results as soon as possible. It is also important that any reported irregularities are resolved swiftly and transparently,” the EU said in a statement.
Yesterday, there were media reports of unqualified persons being listed as eligible voters in Sunday’s election.
A Facebook user under the name Anusara Pholboon posted a message that her three-month-old son was listed as an eligible voter. It was also reported that a seven-year-old girl and a woman who had died 20 years ago were among separate lists of eligible voters.
As of yesterday, the election agency ordered removal of content in 68 social media accounts deemed violating the electoral law. These included messages and photos attacking various political parties, election candidates and prime ministerial nominations.
In a related development, police found hacker attacks on the EC’s online vote-count reporting system known as Rapid Report.
The hacker attacks resulted in the system collapsing three times on Sunday, said Police Lt-General Surachet Hakparn, deputy director of the Taskforce for Information Technology Crime Suppression.
Surachet said the hackers had launched their attacks from inside and outside the country. “They are the same group of people,” he said but refused to identify them.
Also, he declined to specify whether the hackers were involved with any political group.