By Kas Chanwanpen
BALLOTS CAST by Thais living in New Zealand last weekend did not arrive in time to be counted as part of yesterday’s tally.
Election Commission (EC) deputy secretary-general Nath Laosisawakul had earlier warned that advance ballots not shipped to Thailand before vote counting began yesterday would be declared void.
However, the commission backtracked after critics spoke up saying it should take responsibility for the misplaced ballots and tardy deliveries.
EC secretary-general Jarungvith Phumma admitted after polling ended yesterday and counting began that about 1,500 ballots from New Zealand would not arrive in time. He put the tardiness down to complications with air cargo and delays involving three airlines. These problems arose despite the ballots being shipped from New Zealand last Wednesday.
Jarungvith said commissioners would convene today to resolve the matter. “The EC will take responsibility,” he told reporters.
Ballot papers cast in the recent advance voting from overseas will be considered invalid if they are not delivered to their intended polling stations for vote counting before the general election’s closing time of 5pm, a senior election official said yesterday.
The last batch of ballot papers cast by Thai expatriates living overseas arrived in Thailand by air yesterday morning, EC deputy secretary-general Nath said.
He said those ballot papers would then be transported by Thailand Post to the constituencies of the voters for counting along with other votes cast yesterday in the final leg of voting.
There was a delay in the transport of the last cargo of ballots from abroad as an international connecting flight to Bangkok was missed, Nath said.
“We expect the last batch of cast ballots to be delivered by 5pm. The local EC officials and polling station officials are responsible for accepting the ballot papers [from overseas]. If the ballots are not delivered within the time frame set by the law, they may be considered invalid. This depends on the facts and the situation,” the senior EC official said.
Advance voting for Thai expats living abroad was held between March 4 and 16 at the Kingdom’s 94 embassies and consulates in 67 countries.
Out of 119,232 eligible voters registered for advance voting, 101,003 – or 84.7 per cent – cast their ballots. That was a new record for voter turnout in advance voting overseas.
The Thai consulate in Sydney, Australia, saw the highest number of voters for advance voting – 8,915 people, or 86.9 per cent of the 10,256 people registered.
That was followed by the Thai Embassy in London, which saw 7,213 voters turning out, accounting for 91 per cent of the people registered for advance voting.
The Thai Embassy in Tokyo was third with a voter turnout of 5,458, or 90.3 per cent, followed by the Los Angeles consulate (5,043 voters or 88.9 per cent), and the Canberra Embassy (5,042 voters or 85.1 per cent).