BANGKOK — Accusations of fraud and irregularities exploded across the internet Monday as the nation awaits the results of the much-anticipated general election, the first in five years since the military seized power in a coup.
Inconsistent ballot counting, late delivery of overseas ballots and the Election Commission’s decision to postpone the announcement of results as pro-junta Phalang Pracharath Party was in the lead, led netizens to unleash their fury over the handling of the polls already in doubt.
On Twitter, #ECBusted and #ElectionFraud were Thailand’s top two trending hashtags Monday morning. Fourth was #ECHasNoCalculator, in reference to the head commissioner’s statement last night, who half jokingly said the announcement of results had to be postponed because they “have no calculator.”
“Thailand’s dirtiest election was said to be in the era of Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram, now it’s about to change to Gen. Prayuth. You should be proud to become another record in Thai history,” @roronorsoloooo wrote.
“I saw some people voting for Prayuth’s party started bitching … that they are the power of the silent majority,” @Eneryoq wrote. “I believe in the power of silent majority and I would accept the results … but I just can’t take the power of exceeding ballot numbers and missing ballots. Vulgar. Dirty. Brazen.”
The tweet referred to the many times the commission provided real-time results showing the numbers of ballots counted to be inconsistent, sometimes exceeding the numbers of cast ballots.
Twitter user @cgureeporn pointed out that with 83 percent of ballots counted, results said more than 22 million ballots had been accounted for five parties, but the number of voter turnout was at a little over 20 million.
“Did you resurrect dead people to vote,” the user wrote in the accompanying tweet.
— ice tam (@cgureeporn) March 24, 2019
Many showed outrage over the revelation that more than 1,500 ballots from New Zealand were delivered too late, which the commission said would be voided.
The Thai Embassy in Wellington released a statement explaining the procedure and expressing its own disappointment over what had happened.
According to the embassy, elections were held periodically in New Zealand in the advance voting period, with the last one held on March 16. The ballots were shipped March 18 out of Wellington, and scheduled to arrive in Thailand the next day. The commission blamed flight delays for preventing them from arriving after polls closed at 5pm Sunday.
“The embassy understands the feeling of all voters, and is very disappointed and sorry that our votes in New Zealand might not be counted in this election, although all officials and volunteers had worked hard to hold the election together for over two months,” the statement read.
Meme-makers were also busy. One on popular Facebook page Basement Karaoke shows the inconsistent numbers of ballots counted and voter turnout with the caption “Teachers, teachers, I have some questions for you.” The post had been shared more than 5,000 times as of Monday morning.
Kai Maew, a well-known satirist comic, posted a cartoon showing a soldier in a voting booth, with another officer peeking from above. It referred to a widely shared news clip that caught a military officer inside the polling area in the capital’s Phaya Thai district checking on how his subordinates voted.
Not all were angry about last night’s incomplete and confusing results. On several posts of pro-junta satirist page Huay Toon, many users expressed their relief.
“Many of us were scared to express our opinions that are different from those who claimed to be on democracy’s side. Every time we said something, we were berated, accused of supporting dictatorship, although we have facts to show them,” user Simon Jrock wrote. “Today, the election results have shown that ‘democracy’ doesn’t belong to only one group of people. Votes for Phalang Pracharath came from the silent majority such as us.”
On online petition site Change.org, almost 300,000 people had signed up for a petition to relieve members of an Election Commission they dubbed “the most corrupt and dirtiest in Thai history.”
The Election Commission is expected to announce the unofficial election results at 2pm today.