EC's conduct panned as 'inefficient, incompetent'
Asian Network for Free Elections slams small, nameless ballots; campaign ban
Inefficient and "incom-petent" is how the coordinator of the Asian Network for Free Elections des-cribed the conduct of the Election Commission (EC) during yesterday's Senate election.
Network coordinator Somsri Harn-ananthasuk said many technical problems were apparent, ranging from ballots lacking names and pictures of candidates to not enough space between the horizontal rows of boxes for marking. The ballots confused voters and even election officers, Somsri said.
The network will seek a meeting with EC secretary-general Ekkachai Warunprapha today to file complaints. An earlier complaint about the ballots went nowhere.
"Such [inefficient and incompetent] work is detrimental to all candidates," Somsri, who observed the election in Nakhon Ratchasima province, told The Nation.
She said the rule preventing candidates from doing anything more than introducing themselves to the electorate meant rich and well-connected candidates emerged as winners, especially in rural provinces.
The law should be changed to allow some limited campaigning within certain budgetary limits, she said. "Well-known figures or people with senior positions are not necessarily good people."
Pongsak Chanon, a member of the network who observed the election in Surin, said many voters could not recall the number of the candidate they wanted to vote for while others said they mistakenly marked the extra boxes on the ballot papers, which were meant for no one.
Many voters did not realise that the ballot papers had marking spaces at the back as well, and election officials did not remind voters of this, Pongsak said.
"People also have very little interest or participation in the counting process," said Pongsak, adding that reports of vote-buying were also made. "Many ballot papers were nullified."
The problem in Samut Songkhram was the lack of independent candidates, said Chatchawan Rakchart, another election observer from the network.