Most provinces see voter turnout fall from 2011 election

national February 04, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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Sunday's election saw an exceptionally low voter turnout in many provinces, with the number of eligible voters who cast their ballots declining from the previous poll of 2011.

In just 34 provinces – fewer than half of all 77 provinces and most of them in the North and Northeast – the turnout was 50 per cent and over. 
Nationwide the turnout was 45.8 per cent, compared to 75 per cent in 2011. Bangkok had a turnout of only 26.1 per cent, compared to 71.6 per cent in the previous poll, according to figures released by Election Commission (EC) secretary-general Puchong Nutrawong yesterday.
Other provinces with unusually low turnout included Prachuap Khiri Khan (14.3 per cent), Samut Songkhram (24.4), Kanchanaburi (25), Rayong (26.1), and Chon Buri (28.2).
Nakhon Si Thammarat in the South had a turnout of only 0.1 per cent, as voting could be held only in a small fraction of polling stations. 
Many provinces had a turnout of between 30 and 40 per cent.
Most saw a decline in voters when compared with the 2011 election, even in the northern province of Lamphun, which had the highest turnout of 72.8 per cent on Sunday, slightly lower than two years ago.
Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra wants new voting to be held in constituencies and provinces where the election was disrupted on Sunday, a source said yesterday. The goal was to meet the minimum number of seats in the House of Representatives required to elect a new prime minister and function legally as soon as possible, the source said.
Voting could not take place in nine southern provinces of Krabi, Chumphon, Trang, Phang Nga, Phatthalung, Phuket, Ranong, Songkhla and Surat Thani, and three constituencies in Bangkok.

The ruling Pheu Thai Party remained confident yesterday that Sunday’s election would not be declared void.
Kanin Boonsuwan, a legal expert of the party, criticised the opposition Democrat Party for petitioning the Ombudsman’s Office for a ruling by the Constitutional Court on whether the election was void as voting could not be completed in one day, as required by law. 
He said the Democrats were not the “damaged party” in this case. And he blamed the protests and the EC’s alleged lack of efficiency for the problems involving the election.
The Democrats today will petition the Constitutional Court against the government for holding the election unconstitutionally, according to party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva. He said the PM went ahead with the poll despite legal problems and repeated warnings by the EC.
In a related development, the other election commissioners yesterday turned down Somchai Srisuthiyakorn's offer to step down from his position in charge of holding elections. Somchai said he would comply with the EC's resolution and continue performing his duty.
He had offered to resign as a way of showing responsibility for problems involving Sunday's election.

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