Senator demands probe into Buriram election irregularities

Image: Sakchai Lalit/AP Photo

The Election Commission (EC) was urged to fast-track an investigation into suspected irregularities in the provincial-level Senate elections held over the weekend, particularly in Buriram where certain candidates received an unexpectedly high number of votes from their peers.

On Sunday, 23,645 candidates who had cleared the district-level selection on June 9 participated in the provincial-level vote across 77 provinces. Out of these, 3,080 candidates were shortlisted to compete for 200 Senate seats in the upcoming national-level contest on June 26 at the Impact Arena in Mueang Thong Thani, Nonthaburi. The final results are slated to be announced on July 2.

Suspicions arose when several prominent candidates failed to advance past the provincial level. Caretaker Senator Somchai Swangkarn highlighted this concern, noting that information he received indicated that many candidates in Buriram did not vote for themselves.

Instead, they almost unanimously voted for specific candidates, each of whom ended up with more than 20 votes. Somchai expresses his confusion on the matter, remarking that an urgent investigation is necessary.

“It makes no sense that candidates did not select themselves and opted for others… the EC must urgently investigate the matter to ensure no damage has been done.”

In addition to Buriram, Senatorial candidates from the Khon Kaen province who also did not advance have lodged complaints with the provincial EC office, expressing concerns about the election process’s integrity.

Irregular voting patterns

A candidate from professional group 15, Patchara Buaphang voiced his unease over the provincial election results. He reported that more than 20 candidates from his group did not vote for themselves or received zero votes.

Patchara found it particularly suspicious that a relatively unknown elementary school teacher garnered more district-level votes than most other candidates. He has decided to file a complaint with the EC, demanding a swift investigation.

“I suspect collusion among the candidates, as the majority of the 35 candidates who moved beyond the district level were teachers who have consistently received more votes than others throughout the process.

“The fact that more than 20 candidates did not vote for themselves raises doubts about the transparency of the election process.”

Director of the Khon Kaen provincial EC office, Watchara Seesan confirmed that the EC would adhere to the procedure and expedite its investigations into each complaint before the national-level elections.

The district-level election involved intra-group voting where the top five candidates in each group advanced to an inter-group election. In the inter-group poll, the three candidates with the highest votes were shortlisted per group, totalling 60 candidates across 20 groups.

This process was repeated at the provincial level on Sunday, but only the top two candidates from each group progressed to the final national stage where the top ten from each of the 20 groups will be selected as Senators.

Watchara mentioned that the EC would examine whether candidates voting for others instead of themselves indicated possible vote-rigging. Additionally, other complaints included questionable candidate eligibility and allegations that some candidates were placed in incorrect professional groups, reported Bangkok Post.

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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.

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