By KAS CHANWANPEN
THE ELECTION Commission (EC)’s credibility has come under scrutiny yet again after it announced incorrect results for a recount on Sunday in a Nakhon Pathom constituency, held to “correct” a tally that had been questioned.
Observers and politicians voiced their concern at yet another gaffe, and urged the poll authority to reveal the March 24 results from every polling station and make them available online.
This latest election mishap came after ballots in Nakhon Pathom were recounted on Sunday. The mistake came to light when Future Forward candidate Savika Limpasuwanna, after trailing behind Democrat Sinthop Kaewpichit by 147 votes in the first count, was found to be ahead of him by 62 votes in the second tally.
The Democrats immediately protested the announcement, arguing that total votes from over 240 polling stations in the constituency should have shown Sinthop winning by four votes.
The EC yesterday admitted the Democrats were correct, and reasoned that the mistake had been made because the announcement was “unofficial”. As of yesterday, the poll authority had yet to issue the official recount results.
The agency’s deputy secretary-general Sawang Boonmee said yesterday that the recount process had yet to be completed, adding that the candidates had already been invited to witness its problems.
Initially, Sawang said the inconsistencies may have occurred from officials entering inaccurate numbers.
He later admitted that such repeated mistakes could shake the agency’s credibility, though he insisted that eventually, everything would be checked. He added that the ballots were stored safely in case a reason for rechecking or correcting the count arose.
However, the incident has further eroded public trust in the agency after a series of similar irregularities.
The public has been angered not only by the EC’s failure to provide a conclusive election result four weeks after voting, but also by mistakes that continue occurring, apparently due to poor administration.
The Future Forward Party yesterday demanded that a new election be held in the Nakhon Pathom constituency due to the confusion and inconsistency in vote counts.
“Such inconsistency makes it impossible to find a just conclusion to the election [here] or which count is correct,” the party’s statement read.
The party also cited a 20-second power cut during the recount on Sunday, as well as certain unspecified irregularities reported by observers, as reasons the EC should consider holding a re-election.
‘Release all results’
Meanwhile, political observers said to avoid bankrupting its credibility altogether, the EC should release the election results from every polling station for public inspection.
In a Facebook post, political critic Sirote Klampaiboon said the incident in Nakhon Pathom could be the last straw, as this repeated inconsistency in tallies threatened to destroy the trustworthiness of the entire election.
The EC, he said, should publish the results on the internet for the public to check, adding that this was necessary to ensure the right candidates are placed in the House of Representatives.
Similarly, pro-election activist Nuttaa Mahattana told The Nation that people have lost whatever trust they might have had in the EC with the latest irregularities.
“It’s come to the point where people are questioning the ballot count nationwide. The numbers have been all over the place, and never seem to add up when recounted,” Nutta said. “Now, a lot of people are wondering if the same thing has happened in their constituency. The EC has to provide us with the raw data from each and every polling unit. This would protect the public interest.”
Meanwhile, former EC commissioner Gothom Arya advised the agency to be humble, accept criticism and either improve or provide proper explanations. The most important thing about an election is accuracy, he said, adding that the wide-scale public doubt should be cleared with a recount of votes.