Worker replaced at voting station for displaying Pita fever
Election staff were warned on Sunday against taking selfies with politicians, after one woman was removed from her job at a voting station in Bangkok’s Watthana district for taking a selfie with Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat.
Election Commission (EC) secretary-general Sawaeng Boonmee said that such behaviour was not illegal, but it was improper as it could be seen as showing bias towards a particular politician or party.
His warning came after an election worker tasked with distributing ballot papers at a voting station in Bangkok’s Watthana district took a selfie with Pita after he arrived to vote.
The election official was replaced, Sawaeng said.
Voters and observers may take photos or record videos of activities at polling stations, but they must do so without interrupting the work of election officials, he said.
The EC also reported at least 14 cases of voters allegedly violating the electoral law while inside voting stations. These included taking photos of their marked ballot papers and tearing ballot papers.
The alleged violations were reported in Udon Thani, Surin, Sa Kaeo, Sukhothai, Chiang Rai, Phrae, Samut Prakan, Krabi, Phuket, and Songkhla, according to Lt-General Nithithorn Jintakanon, spokesman for the Royal Thai Police’s election operation centre.
In Sung Men district of the northern Phrae province, a voter who appeared to be drunk accidentally tore his party-list ballot paper after he fell to the floor. Election officials reported the case involving the 38-year-old man, identified only as Songkran, to local police.
An investigation by police and election officials discovered that Songkran had no intention of damaging his ballot paper.
They concluded that the ballot paper was damaged after he fell due to his drunken state, so they decided not to take legal action against him.
In Samut Prakan’s Muang district, an elderly woman showing signs of dementia reportedly tore her ballot paper.
An investigation by election officials found that the woman did so due to confusion. Because she had no intention of damaging her ballot they decided not to take legal action against her.
It is against the electoral law to intentionally damage a ballot paper, take a photo of a marked ballot, and take a ballot out of a polling station.