By THE NATION WEEKEND
Violations of the ban are punishable by imprisonment of up to six months or a fine of up to Bt10,000.
The restriction is imposed in Thailand’s elections to prevent electoral fraud such as vote-buying or bribery. It is believed that canvassers often try to bribe voters using a variety of tactics, including by throwing parties the night before the poll in order to attract votes.
Police deputy spokesman Kritsana Pattanacharoen yesterday warned all sectors to take care they did not violate electoral laws. Any wrongdoing can be reported around the clock to hotlines 191, 1599 or 1422 and press 2.
The deputy spokesman also said the police were well prepared for advance voting on Sunday as well as for the March 24 election.
Police will ensure security at polling stations, as well as manage road traffic to help voters exercise their rights, Kritsana said.
Police officers will also be on standby to deal with any irregularities during the election, he said. This includes actions on social networking websites that may violate electoral laws, propagate false information, incite hatred or defame election rivals, Kritsana said.
The advance voting will run from 8am to 5pm on Sunday in designated polling stations. Over 2.6 million of the over 51 million eligible voters have registered to vote outside their home constituencies in Thailand.
Those who have registered for early voting but fail to turn up on Sunday will not be eligible to exercise their right on the official election day next week.
The EC also advised those voting on Sunday to ensure they get the numbers of their favoured candidates right. The numbers must be based on their home constituencies, not the constituencies in which they had registered to cast their ballot.
According to the EC, all the advance-voting ballots for all 350 constituencies will be collected and stored in Bangkok before being sorted within two days. They would then be sent to their home constituencies to be counted along with the ballots cast on March 24.
The sorted ballots would be kept at Bangkok’s police stations before being driven to their rightful constituencies by 300 trucks provided by Thailand Post. A surveillance camera will be placed in each truck and a police car will accompany it on the journey.
All ballots will also have special tags and documents accompanying them, the EC said. Anyone with missing tags would be deemed spoiled in order to prevent any fraud, the EC added.