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EC to discuss measures to prevent poll blockades

ELECTION COMMISSION (EC) OFFICIALS have learned from the blockade of ballots and candidacy registration for the February 2 poll and come up with measures to prevent such blockades recurring.

EC commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn said he held a meeting with senior officials on Saturday and again yesterday and the officials had agreed on resolutions for 13 problems encountered during the failed election.

The previous poll was nullified by the Constitutional Court on the grounds that the EC failed to organise it on the same day due to protests and blockades of candidacy registrations, advance voting and distribution of ballots by protesters.

Somchai said the resolutions would not be made public for fear that protesters would try to find ways to render the moves ineffective so they can disrupt elections again.

The measures will be proposed to the full EC meeting tomorrow (Tuesday). If the EC agrees with the measures, it will hold a meeting with the government on Wednesday to seek support for the measures.

Solutions sought for 13 problems

Somchai, who is in charge of organising elections, asked the election officials to ponder the following measures:

n How to hold the registration of party-list candidates and lot drawing to distribute candidacy numbers to political parties without disruption by protesters;

n How to register candidates for 375 constituencies nationwide;

n How to speed up checking of candidates' qualifications by 13 state agencies;

n How to prevent ballot printing from being disrupted by protesters;

n How to prevent party-list ballot distribution to provinces from being blocked by protesters;

n How to prevent protesters from disrupting ballots and ballot box distribution to polling stations;

n How to prevent protesters from blocking advance voting at 1,100 stations nationwide;

n How to deal with the abrupt resignation of polling station officials and provincial election officials;

n How to encourage more Thai expatriates to vote at Thai embassies and consular offices;

n How to ensure the delivery of ballots cast by Thai expatriates back to Thailand in time for ballot counting;

n How to set up an Election Directing Centre to deal with an emergency;

n How to deal with community radio stations and electronic media that may incite people to break election laws.

EC secretary general Puchong Nutrawong said the commission would today discuss complaints about the half-Senate voting in 15 remaining provinces.

Puchong said if deliberation on the cases could not be done within a one-month deadline, the top vote earners in the 15 provinces would be endorsed as senators and the EC would review complaints against the winners later.

Puchong said the EC would also discuss |a request by Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva for a meeting with commissioners.


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