PHUKET, PHANG NGA: Girawadee Khao-orn, one of the eight UN-affiliated election monitors who came to Phuket to check out yesterday’s poll, told the Gazette today that the observers were impressed with how voting was conducted in Phuket and Phang Nga.
“We could see the efforts made by the Regional Election Commission, which tried to serve people in all areas, even Koh Panyee, which is difficult to reach and where there are not many people,” said K. Girawadee, who is from the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in Germany.
“The Election Commission officers in each area we inspected were also enthusiastic about doing their job as well as possible. They looked very proud. That was good – it impressed us, especially as they are far away from the capital.”
All the foreign observers who monitored the election convened for a debriefing in Bangkok this afternoon, K. Girawadee said, adding that all had been impressed by the work of the Election Commission.
She added that none of the observers saw evidence of cheating.
Dr Wilfride Herrmann, who observed polling in Khon Kaen, Udon Thani and Nong Khai provinces, said, “The electoral process was very open and the Thailand Election Commission did a great job in training the local election committees.
“From the viewpoint of the international observers, we would like to see Thailand maintain this level of high professional election.”
The observers suggested a couple of tweaks to improve voting in the future. K. Girawadee said, “The observer from India recommended that Thailand should use ballot machines, as they do in India.
“Another suggestion was to change the shape of the rubber stamp used from a cross to a solid shape because sometimes voters stamp outside the boxes, resulting in a spoiled ballot. This should solve the problem.”
“The Australian observer was interested in the ‘no vote’ option, which is not available in Australia. He said that he will recommend it to Australia Election Commission,” she added.
Dr Prapa Kayee, Head of the Phuket Election Commission (PEC), said, “The foreign observers didn’t pass on any comments to us, but they said they were generally happy with what they saw.”
She said the PEC will send the poll results to the Central Election Commission (CEC) in Bangkok, and that the next step is for the CEC to consider any complaints filed.
Once that is done, the CEC will approve the new Senator for Phuket and issue a letter telling the new Senator to register with the CEC.
“I don’t know when the CEC will approve the new senator,” she said. “That depends on the CEC.”
Dr Prapa added that 59% of electors turned up to vote, down from the 76% who voted in the last senatorial election, six years ago. She suggested that the poor turnout may have been the result of voters becoming bored with having elections very often.
“The PEC tries to make people understand that every election is important. If we do not vote, it means that we don’t exercise our right to choose our representatives to work for us in politics,” she said.
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