Would-be vote protesters warned of legal risks

national January 29, 2014 00:00

By Pravit Rojanaphruk
The Nation

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Voters should be prepared to document possible intimidation by anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) supporters and file a police complaint if they're prevented from casting their vote on Sunday, said Sawatree Suksri, a Thammasat law

“If you are being prevented [from voting], you should ask [protesters] for passage [through],” advised Sawatree, who is also a member of the Nitirat Group of law lecturers.
She said that last Sunday’s advance election, for which two million people registered, showed there are many people who want to exercise their voting rights.
The lecturer urged the caretaker Yingluck Shinawatra administration to deploy a sufficient number of police officers to ensure that no obstruction and intimidation of voters occurs this Sunday.
She urged voters not to enter into a violent confrontation with PDRC protesters, but to gather and record evidence of intimidation and obstruction, and to report it to police.
Sawatree warned PDRC supporters that obstruction of an election could lead to five years suspension of one’s electoral rights, as it is a violation of Article 74 of the Election Law. She added that even without using physical force, obstructing voters through any means is against the law, including lying down in front of the polling station.
Ake Auttagorn, the 34-year-old businessman who famously held a placard reading “Respect My Vote” in front of opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva recently, urged voters to remain peaceful but persistent in going out to vote.
He said he would bring a placard with the same message to the polling booth on Sunday, and is ready to talk nicely to possible PDRC protesters who may block his polling booth in a northern Bangkok district.
 “I hope the [PDRC] protesters learnt something [from the advance voting day] and that they will be cautious. I insist I’ll exercise my vote. I won’t quarrel with them or use abusive words, but will remind them that I have the right to vote. We will seek all peaceful means and I insist it is my right,” he said.
Ake also said that since there’ll be many more polling stations set up on the election day than there were on the advance election day, the ability of PDRC protesters to spread out and block voters from exercising their rights would be much diminished.

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