PHUKET TOWN: Electronic voting made its debut in Phuket yesterday with a machine being used to register votes in student elections at the Rajabhat University Phuket. After manually registering their attendance, students entered polling booths and pressed buttons on keypads to cast their votes: 1 for Theerayuth Yodkaew, 2 for Chaiwat Tongkerd, or 3 for “neither candidate”. Prapa Kayee, President of the Phuket Election Commission (PEC), told the Gazette, “There were no problems using the machine. Many students found it quick and easy to vote. After voting closed, the election committee was able to determine the results immediately, without wasting time counting votes.” The machine used comprised one main computer unit for compiling results and four smaller networked units which voters used to enter their votes. As soon as the polls closed, the results were available at the press of a single button. The result? Of the 3,500 students eligible to vote, 1,237 did so. Theerayuth scored 690 votes and was declared the new Student Council President. His opponent, Chaiwat, received 485 votes, and 62 students chose neither candidate. The results were verified by a manual count. K. Prapa explained that the Central Election Committee (CEC), which is responsible for monitoring elections in Thailand, is aiming to introduce voting machines across Thailand in order to save voters’ time at the polls and to expedite the counting of votes. “Voting machines are being tested in many provinces around the country,” she said. However, she added that voting regulations will first need to be amended before the machines can be used in official political elections in Thailand.
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