EC clarifies Senate election vote exchange, downplays complaints

Image courtesy of Sakchai Lalit/AP Photo

After questions arose regarding candidate vote exchange in the Senate elections, the Election Commission (EC) no longer deems wooing or exchanging votes in the Senate election as a breach.

A petition challenging the initial restrictions on candidates’ election campaigning led the Administrative Court to rule against these restrictions on May 24, resulting in their repeal.

EC Secretary-General Sawang Boonme addressed the media, downplaying reports on the high number of complaints about suspected election regulation violations, noting that the number of complaints was not significant given the 40,000 candidates involved.

The EC is currently investigating these complaints and will take legal action if any are substantiated.

Related news

With the May 24 ruling scrapping the EC’s regulation that restricted Senate candidates from publicly introducing themselves, candidates can now utilise votes as they see fit, except for buying votes, which remains illegal. Sawang claims that regulations surrounding Senate election voting ensure fairness.

“When creating these rules, we aimed to ensure fairness for all candidates. But since the court has ruled to hold the rights and freedom of these candidates [above the purpose of us creating these regulations], we have to follow the ruling.”

Sawang remains uncertain whether candidates linked to conservative political parties and the reformist Move Forward Party (MFP) would dominate the Upper House.

Among the complaints filed about alleged misconduct in the past two rounds of Senate voting, three notable candidates lodged complaints on Wednesday. These individuals were famed Lawyer Sitra Biabangkerd, political activist Sonthiya Sawatdee, and former high-ranking police officer Santana Prayoonrat.

After submitting his complaint, Sitra claimed to have provided the EC with evidence of collusion, suggesting that some groups of candidates were hired to cast votes for specific candidates.

Sitra, who received the highest number of votes in the district and provincial rounds in Samut Sakhon, will contest the final national vote next Wednesday. He asserted that he had proof of vote-buying and handed this evidence to the EC.

Sonthiya and Santana, who won in the district-level vote in Pathumwan district, Bangkok, but were later defeated at the provincial level, also voiced their concerns. Sonthiya intends to petition either the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office-Holders or the Constitutional Court against the Senate election results.

Santana accused three unnamed major parties of being involved in alleged vote-buying in the ongoing Senate race, reported Bangkok Post.

Politics NewsThailand News

Ryan Turner

Ryan is a journalism student from Mahidol University with a passion for history, writing and delivering news content with a rich storytelling narrative.

Related Articles