Court rejects EC's rubber stamps
New regulation violates individual's right to choose how a ballot is filled, judges say
The Administrative Court yesterday ruled against a regulation set by the Election Commission, which required voters to use a rubber stamp to cast their votes in the general election on Sunday. The ruling forces the EC to allow voters to cast ballots with a pen as an option.
Judge Anuwat Tharasawaeng said the EC had recently changed its rules to force voters to cast ballots by making an X mark with a rubber stamp, replacing the method that used a pen.
He said the new rule violated election law, which does not specify how a mark must be made. The EC rule therefore violated an individual's right to choose how to cast their vote.
The ruling forces the EC to allow voters to either make an X mark with a pen or with a rubber stamp when voting, which means that every polling booth must be supplied with a pen as well as a stamp.
The EC also has to publicise the fact that voters can choose how to cast their ballots, Anuwat said.
The court ruling followed the Network of Consumer Protection Foundations' appeal to nullify the rubber-stamp rule on the grounds that it would make cheating easier.
The network claimed that the use of rubber stamps would be difficult to examine on questionable ballots.
However, EC chairman Vasana Puemlarp dismissed concerns about potential irregularities. "It's not easy to forge ballots," he said.
All ballots are printed under tight security and checked carefully, he said, adding that they were kept in secure rooms after printing.
Election commissioner Prinya Nakchudtree yesterday said the EC was ready to comply with the administrative court ruling, saying the EC would hold discussions about how to provide both a pen and stamp at each ballot box.
"We won't force voters to use either a pen or rubber stamp. They can use either one on the ballot," he said.