March 03, 2013 00:00 By The Nation on Sunday 3,416 Viewed
EC chief says election officials on full alert to guard against vote-buying or other frauds
The voter turnout in today’s gubernatorial election is expected to be above 60 per cent due to the fierce competition, Election Commissioner Prapan Naikowit yesterday.
He was speaking after Election Commission officials had checked all election equipment, ballot boxes and the places where they would be kept.
Ninnart Chalitanont, permanent secretary of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), said city officials hoped the voter turnout would reach the target of 70 per cent out of some 4 million eligible voters.
The BMA has spent Bt175 million in campaigning for a high voter turnout. She said every polling station would have one director, three officials and one police to ensure a free and fair election. She urged voters to exercise their voting right early in the morning to prevent traffic congestion.
The EC has ordered election officials to ensure a free and fair election and to assist disabled people and students who want to exercise their voting right.
The Office of Basic Education has informed the EC that it could not postpone the exam date for GAT/PAT so it has extended the lunchtime from one to two hours so that students could exercise their voting right.
Responding to reports that a number of police names from Northeastern provinces have been added to the list of eligible voters for today’s election, Prapan said he would ask the Interior Ministry’s Department of Provincial Administration to check if there were any irregularities.
Prapan said 13 electoral complaints had been filed with the EC and the only one accepted for investigation was from independent candidate Sereepisuth Temeeyaves, who accused pollsters of releasing poll results that are misleading the public.
He said there had not been any complaints about vote-buying and he believed it would be difficult to buy votes because the capital spans large electoral areas. However, the EC would remain vigilant and deploy intelligence teams to collect information about attempts to buy votes and other electoral frauds.
Meanwhile, Police Lt-General Thaweesak Toochinda, chairman of the EC’s Bangkok office, responding to allegations of a number of police names suspiciously being listed as eligible voters, said the report may have been a result of misunderstanding. He said speaking from his own experience as a police officer, he had learnt that many police may have their residence in Bangkok but could have been transferred to work in the provinces but had not requested a housing registration in the provinces.
He said he would check if the incident was just a registration error and the Department of Provincial Administration would be requested to check the suspicious voter list.
He said residents of Bangkok should also inform election officials in their constituency if unknown names appeared in their housing registration.
Thaweesak said yesterday that he did not think any candidate would resort to vote-buying to win the election.
“The EC has adopted measures based on our experience from previous elections. In this election, we are using a lot of police personnel and volunteers in a bid to prevent fraud. We are confident that we can close all the loopholes that could allow fraud,” Thaweesak said.
He said election officials were gathering information to determine if any candidate or their canvassers had offered to buy votes. Any candidate found guilty would be disqualified and ordered to pay Bt176 million in compensation.
The big day has arrived. Keep yourself updated about today’s election news until you know who will become the next Bangkok governor.
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You can also follow today’s election through The Nation’s senior editor Tulsathit Taptim’s live blogging on our website.
Thanks to the multiple resources of our convergent newsroom, we will be able to keep you up to date with developments from the moment voting begins at 8 in the morning until a clear picture emerges of who will become the next Bangkok governor.