Poll Observers Not Confident Election Free or Fair

UN employees Sunday at a Bangkok polling station.
UN employees Sunday at a Bangkok polling station.

BANGKOK — Less than two hours before polls close, a leading polling monitoring organization said it’s not confident there won’t be foul play in Sunday’s election many are already doubtful about.

Vice president of P-Net, the People’s Election Network, Laddawan Tantivitayapitak, noted election irregularities reported by some of its 600 volunteer observers nationwide and expressed concern about the Election Commission’s efficiency as the nation goes to vote for the first time after five years of military rule.

“I’m still reluctant to say I’m confident this [election] will be in order,” she said.

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The majority of the problems involved election workers at many polling stations who failed to follow regulations, which she said might be caused by confusion or lack of experience.

Those include police officers helping voters put their ballots into the ballot boxes, unsynchronized clocks that caused some polling stations to open too early and missing candidate information, which some said they never received from the commission.

LIVE: Hear about reported voting irregularities from P-Net election monitor group VP Laddawan Tantivitayapitak

โพสต์โดย Khaosod English เมื่อ วันอาทิตย์ที่ 24 มีนาคม 2019

Although Laddawan said she believes these were “unintentional mistakes,” she’s worried they might miss problems that are more serious due to a lack of observers.

“Our concern is that they don’t have poll watch to witness and observe in the polling stations. It could be a loophole for people to make mistakes or fraud,” she said in an interview with Khaosod English. “This can become very serious. If it happened in many polling stations, it won’t be just small mistakes.”

Unconfirmed reports of voting irregularities came in from across the nation. In perhaps the most serious, a video news report suggested improper vote manipulation by the army. In a Thairath TV reporter’s clip, a military officer is seen inside the polling area watching each of his subordinate vote in Bangkok’s Phaya Thai district.

Police said they were investigating possible vote-buying in several provinces.

In Korat, one voter wrote online that officials had covered up a Future Forward candidate at the polling station, saying she had been “disqualified.”

Laddawan also expressed disappointment that foreign observers from the European Union were not invited to participate to help ensure that the election will be free and fair.

“I think this present Election Commission, they don’t realize the importance of people’s participation. Not only from outside, even inside the country,” she said.

Follow minute-by-minute updates on our live blog.

Additional reporting Pravit Rojanaphruk