Protesters block poll offices in 20 provinces

national January 25, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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Many besieged in South ahead of advance voting tomorrow

Election offices in 20 provinces, up to 15 of them in the South, have been besieged by anti-government protesters ahead of advance voting tomorrow for the February 2 poll, a senior Election Commission (EC) official said yesterday.
EC secretary-general Puchong Nutrawong said the election agency held a meeting yesterday to discuss legal issues that would arise from the possible blockade of venues designated for advance voting. He said election officials would be advised on what to do if there was a blockade at their polling stations.
A total of 153 venues are earmarked for advance voting and 2 million eligible voters have registered so far, Puchong said.
Puchong said security measures would be put in place for polling stations that have more than 40,000 eligible voters registered for advance voting. These included Bang Kapi and Bang Khunthien districts in Bangkok and provinces that have a lot of factories, such as Ayutthaya, Chon Buri and Samut Prakan, which has 100,000 eligible voters registered.
Saneh Rakrong, election director of the southern province of Trang, said yesterday that the local election office was still short of volunteers to man polling stations tomorrow and on February 2. So far they only had 60 per cent of the staff they will require. “It seems people don’t want to help with holding the election,” he said.
In another southern province, Ranong, about 200 protesters from the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) managed to deter participants from attending a meeting yesterday with local election officials. 
In Bangkok, a training session for 200 election officials in Phya Thai District Office had to be cancelled yesterday after a group of protesters led by PDRC leader Thaworn Senneam blocked the venue.
Separately, a public opinion survey found that 52 per cent of 1,484 respondents believe the February 2 election was not likely to improve the ongoing political confusion. 
Another 30.5 per cent said the situation would worsen, while 18 per cent said things would get better. Rajabhat Suan Dusit University’s Dusit Poll conducted the survey in Bangkok and nearby provinces in the five days to yesterday.
Meanwhile, Pheu Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit has instructed the EC to inform the police if protesters try to obstruct the election. 
2011 election vs February 2
July 3, 2011
Eligible voters: 46.93 million
Turnout: 35.22 million
Registration overseas: 146,132
Turnout overseas: 76,616
Absentee-voting registration: 2.64 million (1.08 million in Bangkok)
February 2, 2014 
Eligible voters: 48 million
Registration overseas: 143,807
Absentee-voting registration: 2.16 million (916,210 in Bangkok)

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