OrBorJor election set for March 14

PHUKET TOWN: March 14 has been set as the date of Phuket’s much-anticipated Provincial Administration Organization (OrBorJor) elections. The announcement came this morning from the Phuket Election Commission (PEC) just one day after the expiry of the previous OrBorJor administration, which was led by president Dr Prasit Koeysiripong. The poll has drawn national attention since Democrat Party party-list MP Anchalee Vanich-Thepabutr resigned her seat in parliament to run for the OrBorJor presidency. She will be up against two candidates – Samroeng Chaisorn of the government-backed OrBorJor Gao Mai TRT (“New Step TRT”) party and Wisut Santikun of the OrBorJor Gao Mai Khonbaanrao (“New Step Our People”) party. Making the announcement at the OrBorJor offices was Phuket Town District Chief Veerawat Chanpen, who has been appointed to head a five-man provincial election oversight committee. He explained that, from February 9 to 13, the PEC will register candidates both for the presidency and regular seats at tables set up in front of the OrBorJor building. For provincial politics, Phuket is divided into 24 precincts, each electing one councillor. A total of 277 polling stations will be set up. Though estimates of the island’s total population have been put as high as 400,000 people, only 218,595 of these are eligible to vote because few people who have migrated to Phuket from other provinces are listed on local house registration papers. Voters will cast two votes, one for the presidential candidate of their choice and another for a candidate running in their precinct. Regular OrBorJor candidates are limited to spending 200,000 baht apiece on their campaigns, but candidates for President may each spend up to 1.5 million baht. K. Veerawat seemed resigned to the fact that campaigning would be fierce. “It’s normal for candidates to compete hard in an election,” he said. But he warned candidates not to break the rules, noting, “Nobody is above the law.” He added that he needed more volunteers for the seven-member local election committees in each precinct. One of the main tasks of these committees is to eliminate vote-buying, traditionally performed by party organizers who “rent” ID cards from people for an agreed amount and then use them to cast votes for their candidate. Aware that the round of elections will likely be more heated than anything Phuket has seen now that national party politics are involved, K Veerawat told the Gazette, “We are also responsible for security at polling stations and we are coordinating our efforts with both the Navy and local police units.” Phuket OrBorJor will spend two million baht to publicize the election and encourage voter turnout.

Phuket News
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